MESC - 2024

NASA’s assessment for Next Generation Microgravity National Laboratory

The international space station (ISS) due to be decommissioned in 2031. Credit NASA

London, 28 December 2023.- NASA has released its initial assessment of models for a next generation microgravity national laboratory. In September 2022, the National Space Council directed NASA to develop a plan led by the Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) and the Office for Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS). 

NASA’s OTPS conducted a study of various candidate models of future operations between a National Laboratory and various Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD). Six models were identified ranging from high to low levels of government oversight with three different economic models. 

Outlined in the National LEO R&D Strategy released in March 2023, were the goals that a national laboratory should achieve: 1. Maintaining US leadership in space for research, technology, and innovation; 2. Coalescing additional US government efforts to utilise space to achieve national objectives; 3. Supporting additional government funded scientists and engineers with access to expertise and in-space research facilities; 4. Enabling international cooperation, and 5. Creating opportunities for STEM and diverse workforce development. 

The future construct will aim to represent all US Government-sponsored research by NASA and non-NASA users collaborating more. This approach aims to enhance the user experience, reduce overhead, encourage collaboration, and allow resource sharing between agencies. 

The report titled ‘Models for Facilitating Government-Funded Activities in the Post-International Space Station (ISS) Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Ecosystem” can be found here.

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