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Florida is Base for U.S. National Lab
09.19.11
 
Waleed Abdalati, NASA chief scientist (left), Mark Uhran, NASA assistant associate administrator for the International Space Station (center) and Jeanne Becker, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) executive director (right).

Image above: Waleed Abdalati, NASA chief scientist (left), Mark Uhran, NASA assistant associate administrator for the International Space Station (center) and Jeanne Becker, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) executive director (right) announce that CASIS will be located at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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The Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the new home to the organization that will manage the portion of the International Space Station that is operated as a U.S. national laboratory.

A NASA cooperative agreement recently was awarded to The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The independent, nonprofit, research management organization will base its efforts at Kennedy and help ensure the space station's unique capabilities are made available to the broadest possible cross-section of U.S. scientific, technological and industrial communities.

"The station is the centerpiece of our human spaceflight activities for the coming years," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said. "This cooperative agreement allows us to expand the station's use and achieve its fullest potential so we can reach destinations farther in the solar system and improve life on Earth."

NASA's Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati said that this is a time of transition in terms of human spaceflight and human exploration as the agency transitions from the shuttle to commercial capability.

"With the space station complete, we're poised for the next stage, the next step. We have up in space this tremendous national asset that is the International Space Station," Abdalati said. "It's an asset for science, exploration, industry, our nation and the world as a whole. It's an asset of which we're very proud and it has tremendous potential."

Mark Uhran, NASA assistant associate administrator for the International Space Station said that the completion of the space station is a historic achievement.

"The award to CASIS for the advancement of science and space allows the agency to go the next step now and extend the national laboratory to organizations across the U.S., academic and private institutions, and non-profit research and development foundations, from which we have seen growing interest," Uhran said.

CASIS will now step up to manage those interests, further stimulating them as NASA moves into the utilization era of space station, an era that has opportunities never before available.

CASIS Executive Director Jeanne Becker said the organization stands ready to develop the premier institution needed to really advance space-based research and technology development and education initiatives and also engage the community.

"I know first-hand the opportunities and advancements that can be made using this national laboratory, this microgravity environment," Becker said. "CASIS will drive discoveries that can't be achieved on the ground and utilize the national lab to return value back to citizens."

Becker said CASIS will develop and manage a varied research and development portfolio based on U.S. national needs for basic and applied research.

During the first year of the agreement, Becker said CASIS will work closely with NASA's existing space station customers, and develop the infrastructure to handle solicitations. CASIS also plans to fund some of its own science and research experiments.

Though many of the experiments may be developed in other parts of the country, Becker said that payload integration will be performed at Kennedy's Space Life Sciences Lab to prepare each for delivery to the space station.

The cooperative agreement between NASA and CASIS is for 10 years with initial assistance funding of up to $15 million per year.

"Kennedy is the heart -- literally and figuratively -- of the launching ground for space exploration, so it's very fitting that it be based here," Abdalati said. "This is a catalyst for what we believe will be quite big. We're at a position now where NASA is going to continue to do its focused research, but we have the opportunity here to do so much more," Abdalati said. "We're poised for discovery and to learn new things. I think there will be many surprises to discover."

 
 
Linda Herridge
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center