NASA ISS Payload Integration: Forever Slow?

Concept to Implementation in as Little as Six Months

"The National Laboratory Office sponsored some payloads that went into orbit in as little as 6 months, but that is not the norm at this time. A developer is already in the assembly process on their end for the payload, rather than in the development stage of their idea. An amazing turnaround like this is for known re-flight science, not for new payloads being assembled. What we are trying to do with National Lab is to use the processes and manage the integration in such a way that we can bring things in later than the normal flow. This is contingent on the National Laboratory model of the commercial or government agency having their funding and development ready to bring to the table. If they are waiting for anticipated funds to move forward with development, this significantly delays the progress."

Keith's note: Nice words but actions, as they say, speak louder. NASA's Space Station team (Mark Uhran et al) have had 20 years to figure this out and yet it still takes years, ponderous paperwork, and large piles of money to get virtually any payload onto the ISS. If Uhran's team really wants to be a "National Laboratory" in more ways than just name, then they need to do vastly better in this regard. Already (see below), things that could have been led by NASA in the past decade or so via on-orbit research had surged ahead on the ground because the agency has dragged its feet and is incapable and/or unwilling to try and find a way to make this amazing facility useful within the time frames that industry and academia work IN THE REAL WORLD.

Alas, the ISS National LAB CAN simply seeks to replicate all of NASA's current bad habits, adds a new name and logo and calls it "new". It is not "new" by any stretch of the imagination and NASA is only doing this because Congress got frustrated and ordered them to do so - in law.

Nanoracks are indeed cool and are in synch with the experimental mindset resident within many business and universities these days. If NASA is really paying attention and not just treating these Nanorack-class payloads as a novelty, they could serve to transform the ponderous process NASA uses to put payloads on the ISS. If, that is, NASA really wants this to happen and is not just doing this to pay lip service to a trendy concept. Right now, by the author's own admission these fast integration times are "not the norm at this time."

It needs to be the norm - for all payloads.

Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, ealier post

"With the research results presented in these two papers, it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - so called "nanocrystals" using a hard X-ray laser - on Earth - no space station required. So much for the official story NASA has told for 20 years that the ISS is crucial for such work."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 3, 2011 11:52 PM.

HD Video From The Edge of Space - Director's Cut was the previous entry in this blog.

NASA Buzzroom Is Broken. Please Fix It. (Updated with SOMD Response) is the next entry in this blog.

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