place, such as the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, Ecology of Infectious Diseases (National Science Foundation [NSF] and NIH), National Plant Genome Initiative (NSF, NIH, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, DOE, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget) and the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Program. An advantage of interdisciplinary programs is a shared contribution of several agencies to the funding needed for ambitious and expensive projects that likely will be necessary to enable the space mission. It would be valuable to strengthen and sustain the historical collaborations of NASA with agencies such as the NIH in life sciences, and to expand them in physical sciences to other agencies such as DOE and the Department of Defense (DOD). These collaborations can build on such efforts as the Memorandum of Understanding between the National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for Cooperation in Space-Related Health Research, which went into effect in September 2007.10,11 This agreement established a framework of cooperation between the NIH and NASA to encourage (1) communication and interaction between the NIH and NASA research communities to facilitate space-related research and to integrate results from that research into an improved understanding of human physiology and human health; (2) exchange of ideas, information, and data arising from their respective research efforts; (3) development of biomedical research approaches and clinical technologies for use on Earth and in space; and (4) research in Earth- and space-based facilities that could improve human health on Earth and in space. In the physical sciences area there have been and are ongoing collaborations between NASA and other space agencies, such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Space Agency (DLR). Examples include a joint experiment on the ISS with DLR on capillary channel flow, a microheater array boiling experiment with ESA, an advanced colloids experiment with ESA, and in the non-Newtonian fluids area, the Observation and Analysis of Smectic Islands in Space experiment with DLR. NASA would benefit from further expanding such collaborations in the future.
The United States has enjoyed a leadership position in space exploration due to its long and successful history of space missions. However, during the coming decade, it is likely that significant efforts in this area will be initiated by other nations. Because of unresolved problems in ensuring safe and successful long-duration missions that affect all nations attempting human spaceflight, a convergence of efforts would likely be of universal benefit. Similar steps as discussed above regarding interagency collaboration within the United States seem logical to explore in support of international scientific projects designed to resolve issues relevant to technological challenges and to astronaut health, safety, and performance. The research community that deals with life and physical sciences in space has remained quite robust internationally, even as NASA has reduced its support in this area. Investigations in Japan, Europe, and Russia have continued, with new results being published regularly.
To regain stature as the leader of the global scientific team in life and physical sciences in space, NASA needs to increase international scientific activities through interactions with such organizations as, but not limited to, the International Space Life Sciences Working Group (ISLSWG). Such cooperation worked well in the decades before 2000 and will undoubtedly reduce subsequent costs to NASA. As noted, in the physical sciences area, there are existing collaborations between NASA and such agencies as ESA, and these could be expanded. New partnerships, such as with India, Australia, and China, are possible. Strong interactions with groups such as the ISLSWG and the offering of joint research announcements with international partner agencies will aid discovery and internationalize space life and physical sciences, offering opportunities for collaboration in ground-based and flight experiments.
• In accord with elevating the priority of life and physical sciences research, it is important that the budget to support research be sufficient, sustained, and appropriately balanced between intramural and extramural activities. As a general conclusion regarding the allocation of funds, an extramural budget would need to support a sufficiently robust extramural research program to ensure that there will be a stable community of scientists and engineers prepared to lead future space exploration research and train the next generation of scientists and engineers.
• Research productivity and efficiency will be enhanced if the historical collaborations of NASA with other sponsoring agencies, such as the NIH, are sustained, strengthened, and expanded to include other agencies.