ISS is hitting its stride as an incubator and business model in the commercial space ecosystem. Among the entities benefiting from ISS access is the Boeing-founded Genes in Space, a STEM contest that challenges students to design DNA analysis experiments for the ISS National Lab (managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS). Winners’ experiments are launched to ISS to be performed by astronauts, with published results.
Genes in Space 2019 winners Finsam Samson and Yujie Wang designed an experiment to analyze the impact of microgravity on gene expression. Their work may enable medical interventions for astronauts while in space, and therapies for people with stress-related health conditions on Earth.
Boeing also partners with the ISS U.S. National Lab on the MassChallenge startup accelerator’s “Technology in Space” competition. Winning companies receive funding and the opportunity to have their research conducted on the station so they can advance them to market. Qlibrium of Boston had its patch-sized, wearable drug-delivery pump launched to ISS in 2020. The technology holds promise for improved medicine delivery on Earth and on voyages through deep space.
Expanding science and technology development in low Earth orbit means expanding access. Boeing collaborated with Nanoracks on the payload services provider’s Bishop Airlock on ISS. It will open the station to more commercial users and research.