Although the Europeans are developing two facilities that should be ideal for experiments involving small plants such as Arabidopsis a PRU, is needed that can handle larger plants, such as would be grown in a spacecraft on a long-duration mission. The date on which the centrifuge will be deployed on the ISS needs to be firmed up and made available to researchers, so that they do not have unrealistic expectations about when they will be able to do valid fundamental plant biology experiments on the ISS. The development of the WCSAR units needs to continue so that ALS experiments can take place on the ISS in the period before the PRU/centrifuge facility is available. Agreements need to be reached between SPD and Code UF to make these units available to all researchers.
Availability and accessibility of the EMCS and Biolab. NASA needs to encourage the Europeans to continue with the development of the EMCS and Biolab modules and to ensure that they are deployed on the ISS. Agreements need to be reached with ESA about the availability of the EMCS and Biolab for use by U.S. investigators.
Adequate funding for the preparation of plant experiments for future increments. Because of the many delays and uncertainties surrounding flight experiments, the community of plant scientists interested in making use of the ISS is small. This community must be nurtured by providing enough funding to complete all the preliminary, ground-based experiments. Certainty about funding for preliminary studies, coupled with firm plans for flight opportunities, will significantly expand plant scientists’ interest in conducting experiments on the ISS.
Sufficient crew time. There is a sense of discouragement about the possibility that there will be only three crew members on the ISS at Core Complete. Those scientists who have already completed flight experiments know that the requirements for crew time are always more, rather than less, than the amount initially anticipated. There is no point in proposing experiments that involve a significant amount of crew time, even if the facilities for the experiments are available. If the ISS is to be a major research facility, it is essential that the number of crew be increased beyond three.