LamdaVision Selected for NASA Funding to Produce Retinal Implants on ISS

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

People with failing eye sight could see their vision restored with the help of NASA-funded research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The space agency has selected LamdaVision for a small business award to continue development of a system to manufacture protein-based retinal implants aboard the space station.

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Space Tango Welcomes Director of Strategic Engagement and External Affairs

LEXINGTON, Ky., April 30, 2020 (Space Tango PR) — Space Tango today announced the hiring of Cindy Martin-Brennan as the Director of Strategic Engagement and External Affairs. Martin-Brennan is a leader in government relations and stakeholder communications with 35 years of professional experience in the aerospace industry.

Martin-Brennan will lead stakeholder engagement and strategic communications, including the provision of high-quality and responsive information for Space Tango partners. She will also develop and implement collaborative stakeholder engagement plans from strategic, tactical, and operational perspectives. In addition, Martin-Brennan will advise the alignment of programs and initiatives to ensure the execution of the Space Tango vision.

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House Science Committee Members Request GAO Review of ISS National Lab

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2020 (House Science Committee PR) – Today,  Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene Dodaro requesting a broad examination of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space’s (CASIS) performance, management, and governance structure. CASIS is a non-profit organization that currently manages the International Space Station National Laboratory (ISSNL).

In the letter, the Committee leaders express longstanding concerns regarding CASIS’s use of the its ISSNL resource allocation, its internal governance structures, and its transparency and accountability to NASA and Congress, including those identified in a recently released Independent Review Team report.  

“The unique environment offered by the ISSNL is an invaluable resource to facilitate research and development,” said the Committee Chairs and Ranking Members in the letter. “Congress has sought to encourage commercial and cross-agency partnerships as one path to the full utilization of this resource, but CASIS’s organizational struggles appear to have undermined progress. As Congress addresses broader questions surrounding the ISS, its ongoing mission, and the future of NASA-supported research and development in low Earth orbit, it is imperative to ensure that an effective and accountable entity is in place to manage the full range of activities conducted through the ISSNL.”

A copy of the full letter can be found here.

CASIS Welcomes New NASA ISS National Lab Program Executive

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) — NASA recently shared its response to the findings and recommendations from an Independent Review Team (IRT) commissioned to evaluate the operations of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory and its managing entity, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). 

In its response to the IRT’s report, NASA laid out action items, including the identification of an ISS National Lab program executive at NASA Headquarters to serve as the primary liaison to CASIS.

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NASA Tries to Fix the Screwed up ISS National Laboratory Research Program

Editor’s Note: NASA Associate Administrator Douglas Loverro unveiled the following news on Monday during a members-only AIAA webinar in which media participation was apparently limited by that private organization. (As near as I can tell, I did not receive an invite.) The news was not officially announced until Wednesday.

This is a bad way to announce such a major change, especially considering the importance of the space station and problems NASA has experienced with CASIS and the ISS National Laboratory. The approach undermines the openness under which NASA has traditionally operated. I sincerely hope this type of event is not repeated.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is committed to effective management of the International Space Station as a resource for the American people through the International Space Station National Laboratory (ISSNL). The ISSNL returns benefits to Earth and to the nation by supporting important research and development, science, and education and outreach projects, and particularly by enabling research projects that can lead to new commercial space applications in support of the agency’s overall strategy to enable a robust low-Earth orbit economy.

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Space Station Science Payload Operations Continue Amid Pandemic

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir works on a media change for the Engineered Heart Tissues investigation inside the Life Sciences Glovebox. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The International Space Station Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is the heartbeat of space station science research  operations. As NASA’s primary space station science command post, the payload operations team coordinates scientific and commercial experiments on the station, synchronizes payload activities of international partners and directs communications between researchers around the world and their onboard experiments.

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Space BD, Space Basil Sign MOU on Business Alliance Agreement for Kibo Access

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., one of the leading Japanese space startups who provides access to space using ISS Japanese module Kibo as well as piggyback capacity of its flagship launch vehicle “H3”, and Space Basil, Japanese first Space advertisement company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Business Alliance Agreement on March 24, 2020.

With this MoU, Space BD will provide various means of access to space such as the external platform of ISS Kibo to support Space Basil to start their space advertisement and entertainment services.

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Technique Offers Path for Biomanufacturing Medicines During Space Flights

Credit: Richard Bonocora

TROY, NY (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute PR) — An instrument currently aboard the International Space Station could grow E.coli bacteria in space, opening a new path to bio-manufacturing drugs during long term space flights. Research published today in Nature Microgravity used an Earth-bound simulator of the space station instrument to grow E.coli, demonstrating that it can be nurtured with methods that promise to be more suitable for space travel than existing alternatives.

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LambdaVision Wins NASA Award to Further Development of Artificial Retina to Help Patients Regain Sight

FARMINGTON, Conn. (LambdaVision PR)–LambdaVision, an innovative biotech developing a novel treatment to help patients regain sight, along with implementation partner, Space Tango, has been selected by NASA for an award of five million dollars.

This new funding will support LambdaVision’s development of the first protein-based artificial retina to restore meaningful vision for patients who are blind or have lost significant sight due to advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP), with follow-on applications in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness for adults over 55 years old.

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NASA Selects Proposals for In-Space Development of Optical Fibers, Stem Cells and More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Removing the force of gravity from development processes can lead to products that are higher quality, have fewer defects, and are more effective than when developed on Earth. Companies are demonstrating these improved results can be achieved in the unique microgravity environment on the International Space Station (ISS), which orbits about 250 miles above the planet.

The research opportunities that have demonstrated the unique market value of in-space manufacturing, technology advancement and drug development have come through NASA’s investment in dedicating transportation and research time for ISS National Lab investigations.

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Techshot Prints Knee Cartilage in Space

NASA Astronaut and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences graduate Dr. Andrew Morgan prepares the 3D BioFabrication Facility for meniscus test prints aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

GREENVILLE, Ind. (April 6, 2020) – Commercial space company Techshot Inc., used its space-based 3D bioprinter, called the BioFabrication Facility, or BFF, to successfully manufacture test prints of a partial human meniscus aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last month.

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ISS National Lab Issues RFP to Leverage External Facility for Materials Science and Device Testing

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), April 7, 2020 – The International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) in the fields of materials science, device testing, and other research and development areas that require external space exposure. 

Investigators are encouraged to propose flight concepts that will leverage the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) Flight Facility from Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, an in-orbit platform deployed externally onboard the ISS. Proposals will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2020.

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ESA’s Bartolomeo Commercial Facility Connected to Space Station

The Bartolomeo platform, with blue hinges centre-right of the photo, is at the end of the Dextre attachment that is part of Canada’s 16-m robotic arm for the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The first European external commercial facility on the International Space Station arrived at its new home last week: the Columbus laboratory module.

Bartolomeo, named after the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, was installed by robotic arm on the forward-facing side of the space laboratory on 2 April 2020.

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Dragon Spacecraft Splashes Down with ISS Science

SpaceX’s Dragon resupply ship slowly approaches the orbiting lab as both spacecraft were orbiting 258 miles above the Mediterranean Sea Dec. 9, 2019. Filled with more than 4,000 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:50 p.m. (11:50 a.m. PDT), approximately 300 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s 20th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft returned more than 4,000 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo.

Some of the scientific investigations Dragon returned to Earth include:

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Findings & Recommendations on ISS National Laboratory

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station (ISS) Cooperative Agreement
Independent Review Team

Final Report to NASA
Delivered February 4, 2020

Full Report

Consolidated Findings and Recommendations

FINDINGS

Finding 1.1: The ISS National Laboratory (ISSNL) was created as a broad-based research facility, but NASA reduced ISS research in 2004-2005 to focus on human health and safety. Congress did not want to lose the broad research facility for activities in low Earth orbit (LEO) and the Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications (SLPSRA) Division of Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) did not exist at the time of the original legislation. Consequently, there is now a NASA division tasked with enabling research activities that potentially overlap with the ISSNL. Both SLPSRA and Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) perceive that they often operate in competition with one another for crew time, critical on-orbit facilities and “credit” for research results.

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