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August 17, 1999

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(281/483-5111)

Release: J99-32

NASA to Host Houston Conference Exploring Commercial Interest in Space Station Living Quarters

NASA has invited private industry to a Houston forum August 24 through 26 to participate in a conference that will explore potential commercial interest in a government and industry partnership to build the crew habitation module for the International Space Station.

“NASA is dedicated to the commercial use of space and fostering private enterprise on the new frontier,” said Dan Tam, Special Assistant to the NASA Administrator for Commercialization. “This invitation is one way for us to actively seek out the ideas businesses may have for using a living area in space for profit-driven motives. On Earth, it has been demonstrated time and time again that with market support, private industry can do a better job than the government. We expect the same will be true in space.”

NASA needs a crew quarters module for the space station that will house a minimum of four crewmembers. The module should also include bedrooms; a kitchen; a pantry; a dining and meeting area; videoconferencing; entertainment equipment; windows; storage space; exercise equipment; and a medical examination room.

Called the Habitation Module Commercialization Conference, the forum will be held at the Nassau Bay Hilton and Marina Hotel, 3000 NASA Road 1, Houston. The conference will explore the formation of a commercial consortium that would own, use and maintain all or part of the module. NASA would be one of many module users and customers of the consortium.

Current station plans are for the module to be of a traditional metallic design similar to other International Space Station modules. A more recent NASA concept has proposed an innovative, space fabric version of the living quarters module. At this conference, existing designs and new ideas for the module will be considered. Innovative concepts for enhanced habitation capabilities benefiting both NASA and commercial partners are especially sought.

The habitation module will be launched aboard the Space Shuttle and attached to the station in November 2004. More than just aerospace industries, NASA is hoping to spur innovation in the commercial use of space by attracting businesses and investors outside of aerospace. These non-aerospace companies may have ideas related to sponsorship, space tourism, entertainment, advertising, education or technology development. This activity will serve as a pathfinder for other commercial uses of the International Space Station and commercial involvement in other NASA programs.

“We really want this conference to be a brainstorming session with businesses and investors of all kinds and hope it leads to a business relationship between NASA and a commercial consortium. NASA is open to any and all ideas that are of benefit to both private enterprise and the government,” Tam said.

News media are invited to attend the full sessions of the conference. More information and registration information is available on the Internet at http://technology.jsc.nasa.gov/habconference

 

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