The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) faces numerous challenges in carrying out the aspirations of the United States to advance its space exploration mission. Over its 50-year history, the successful progress of NASA in space exploration has depended on the ability to address a wide range of biomedical, engineering, physical science, and related obstacles. The partnership of NASA with the research community reflects the original mandate from Congress in 1958 to promote science and technology, which requires an active and vibrant research program. In the past, NASA’s commitments to life and physical sciences research activities for space exploration have been strong and productive. As highlighted in the 2003 National Research Council (NRC) report Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA,1 NASA’s Physical Sciences Division had a strong outreach program in the early 1990s that engaged scientists in the microgravity disciplines, including combustion, fluid physics, fundamental physics, and materials science. Similarly, as emphasized in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of the current report, there were great advances in scientific discovery in past decades as a result of NASA’s strong commitment to life sciences research activities. The committee acknowledges the many achievements of NASA, a feat all the more remarkable given budgetary challenges and changes of overall emphasis within the agency. However, the committee is deeply concerned about the current state of NASA life and physical sciences research.
The scientific community engaged in space exploration research has dwindled in the past decade as a result of marked reductions in budget funding levels, from approximately $500 million shared equally between life and physical sciences in 2002 to the 2010 level of less than $200 million, with most of the latter going to the Human Research Program and only $47 million going to International Space Station (ISS) life and physical sciences research. There has been a corresponding reduction in the ISS research portfolio, from 966 investigations in 2002 to 285 in 2008.2 NASA has acknowledged the decline in research activity but had also projected that the decline would be temporary. For example, in describing the run-up to full ISS utilization, the authors of a 2000 NASA report wrote:
The high level of space life sciences research activity seen in the 1991-1995 period continued through 1996 and then began to taper off. This decline in the number of life sciences payloads is attributable to several factors: the close out of the Cosmos/Bion program in 1997, the end of the planned NASA/Mir collaboration in 1998, the retirement of Spacelab, and the requirement for Space Shuttle flights to conduct assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in late 1998. Flight experimentation should again pick up as ISS assembly reaches completion in the first few years of the twenty-first century.3
It is now time for NASA to return to a high level of programmatic vision and dedication to life and physical sciences research, to ensure that the considerable obstacles to long-duration human exploration missions in space can be resolved. As has always been the case, achievement of these goals will depend on a steady input of innovative high-quality research results. In turn, high-quality research will depend on NASA embracing life and physical sciences research as part of its core exploration mission and re-energizing a community of life and physical scientists and engineers focused on both exploration-enabling research and scientific discovery (i.e., fundamental research enabled by space exploration).
The committee concluded that considerable programmatic efforts will be required to overcome current obstacles, secure the trust of the scientific community, and restore the life and physical sciences research program to a committed, comprehensive, and highly visible organizational resource that effectively promotes research to meet the national space exploration agenda. Issues that are important in achieving these goals are discussed in the following sections.
As the nation and NASA prepare for the next decade of space exploration, numerous challenges must be met to ensure successful results. Among these challenges are the developments needed to reduce risks and costs, which will come from a deeper understanding of the performance of people, animals, microbes, plants, materials, and engineered systems in the environments of space. To meet these challenges, which span life and physical sciences, it is essential to develop a long-term strategic research plan, firmly anchored both within NASA and in a broad and diverse extramural research community. For such a plan to become a reality, research must be central to NASA’s exploration mission and be supported throughout the agency as an essential means to achieve future space exploration goals. Feedback, associated with this decadal survey received from numerous interviews, town hall meetings, and white paper submissions, indicated that a large proportion of the research community does not see such an environment for life and physical sciences within the current exploration programs at NASA.
NASA has overcome a number of obstacles in fulfilling the original objectives identified by Congress. It has been a challenge from the outset to organize and manage the life and physical sciences research program within the overall NASA administrative infrastructure. Some of the organizational challenges included the ability to select and prioritize the most meritorious research projects, the provision of adequate and sustained support for such research projects, and the ability to attract a community of researchers with the necessary skills and experiences to conduct these studies and to create a new generation of scientists and engineers focused on research to answer questions relevant for space exploration missions. To continue to meet such challenges, it is of paramount importance that the life and physical sciences research portfolio supported by NASA, both extramurally and intramurally, receive appropriate attention and that its organizational structure be optimally designed to meet NASA’s needs. The utility of a coherent research plan that is appropriately resourced and consistently applied to enable exploration cannot be overemphasized. This is especially noteworthy in light of the frequent and large postponements that NASA’s exploration-related goals have experienced over the past several decades.
The NASA exploration research enterprise will be improved only if it is promoted and embraced horizontally and vertically throughout the organizational structure of NASA. Multiple factors have resulted in NASA life and physical sciences research being relegated to a very low priority, with many areas virtually eliminated. Since retirement of the Spacelab (in 1999) and the completion of the International Neurolab project (mission conducted in 1998), during which many sophisticated experiments took place in the context of dedicated research missions implemented by a highly trained and intellectually engaged crew, the priority for research has been reduced to levels that compromise the research endeavor and the success of future exploration missions. The perception that research is optional, rather than essential, is reflected in the attitudes of flight and ground personnel toward crew participation in research projects and appears to be driven by NASA’s overall expectations and reward system for flight missions. Currently, astronauts can opt out of their participation in approved and manifested research projects, both in terms of serving as a subject and acting as a surrogate investigator for a research project. For example,
in one ongoing extramural project, only 11 of 18 crew members agreed to participate in a project that involves noninvasive imaging (echo and magnetic resonance imaging) and ambulatory monitoring (Holter and blood pressure) of cardiovascular function; one participant dropped out 2 weeks before the flight. Similarly, in an ongoing intramural project that is evaluating a new evidence-based exercise prescription to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and cardiovascular function during ISS missions, only 3 of the first 6 crew members invited to participate were enrolled. Mission managers, who often have limited research background and are not incentivized to place a priority on research, control crew availability and make decisions concerning crew scheduling that can compromise research studies and outcomes, even when acceptable alternatives to these competing activities are available.
To address these systemic problems and restore the high priority of NASA’s life and physical sciences research program over the next decade, the following steps are important.
• Recognition of the need for a change of attitude and commitment to life and physical sciences research throughout the agency is essential. To reflect a vision that life and physical sciences research is central to NASA’s space exploration mission, research must be viewed as a priority. It is essential that every employee, from management through crew, subscribe to the view that a key objective of the organization is to support and conduct life and physical sciences research as an essential translational step in the execution of space exploration missions.
• Acknowledging life and physical sciences research as an integral component of spaceflight operations. For research to become a central component of exploration programs, it is necessary to develop a culture in which participation in research, both as a subject of investigation and as a surrogate investigator, is viewed as a fundamental element of the astronaut mission. Many crew members already display this attitude, and they frequently go to extraordinary lengths to participate in research studies in partnership with the extramural research community. However, the level of autonomy given to astronauts to choose whether or not to participate in research activities is surprising and inappropriate, given the scarce opportunities for human research in space. In addition, many types of experiments require specialized scientific or technical expertise to make knowledgeable observations, measurements, and judgments. It is important to optimize very limited opportunities to gain a better understanding of the effects of the space environment on human health, safety, and performance, and on systems that reduce risk and optimize performance, because such information will define the future limits of space exploration.
One possible solution is to include not only scientific and technical expertise but also willingness to participate in research that enables future space exploration as part of crew selection in the planning of specific mission assignments, and perhaps even as part of the astronaut selection process. Such an approach would define research participation as one of the responsibilities of an astronaut. The priority of research can also be reinforced during the training of ground support personnel (e.g., flight directors, mission controllers, training managers, and instructors).
Requiring astronauts to participate in research as part of a mission may generate questions about such issues as coercion and privacy rights. However, it is reasonable and ethical that, if research participation is defined as a component of being an astronaut, then the consequence of choosing not to participate would be understood to result in a different assignment. Astronauts would have to accept the risk of loss of confidentiality, with respect to data collected for research purposes, along with the many other risks associated with spaceflight. This approach would remain aligned with the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects.4 Because the NASA exploration mission is of national importance, research opportunities to advance this agenda become part of strategic decisions. This philosophy is consistent with that embodied in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958,5 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Safe Passage,6 and the NRC report A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century.7
• The collection and analysis of a broad array of physiological and psychological data from astronauts before, during, and after a mission is necessary to advance knowledge of the effects of the space environment on human health and to improve the safety of space exploration. As discussed below (see “Improved Access to Samples and Data From Astronauts”), ensuring the health, safety, and performance of astronauts during future space exploration will depend on the existence of comprehensive databases on astronaut health and performance. In addition to data collected from distinct research projects, such databases would ideally be populated with operational data collected during missions and with medical data obtained before, during, and after exposure to the space environment; extensive follow-up data will be necessary to understand the potential long-term effects
of spaceflight on health. The 2001 IOM report Safe Passage8 addressed the issue of confidentiality of astronaut health data. That report indicated that medical information that is not part of a defined research protocol has been regarded by NASA as confidential, to be known only to the astronaut’s flight surgeon and the astronaut. One finding of that report was as follows:
Because of concerns about astronaut privacy, data and biological specimens that might ensure the health and safety of the astronaut corps for long-duration missions have not been analyzed. If these data and other data to be accumulated in the future are to be used to facilitate medical planning for the unique sets of pressures and extreme environments that astronauts will experience on long-duration space missions, the ethical concerns about astronaut privacy must be appropriately modified. (p. 177)
The report argued, and this committee concurs, that the emphasis on the privacy of astronaut health data has resulted in lost opportunities to advance the understanding of the risks to humans in the space environment. The IOM report recommended that NASA develop and use an occupational health model for the collection and analysis of astronaut health data. Under such a paradigm, the importance of understanding the risks of the space environment for future astronauts is at least as important as maintaining the confidentiality of individual medical information. The conclusion of the IOM committee was that the collection of individual medical data before, during, and after a mission should be expected by all astronauts who participate in space missions. Such an obligation is reasonable in return for the unique opportunity to travel in space as a representative of the United States. It is important that there be regular, planned analyses of these data to identify critical areas of research to enable future space exploration. The privacy of individual astronauts should be protected to the extent possible (e.g., by de-indentifying data as much as possible) but should not outweigh the need to understand the risks of long-duration space travel.
If there are legal concerns regarding the conclusion that participation in research that enables future space exploration should be part of the job of an astronaut, even if the confidentiality of the data generated cannot be ensured, NASA could bring the matter to the attention of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) of the Department of Health and Human Services. The SACHRP provides expert advice and recommendations to the secretary and to the assistant secretary for health on issues and topics pertaining to or associated with the protection of human research subjects. Specific topics include, but are not limited to, special populations and populations in which there are individually identifiable samples, data, or information.9
• The success of future space exploration depends on life and physical sciences research being central to NASA’s exploration mission and being embraced throughout the agency as an essential translational step in the execution of space exploration missions.
• A successful life and physical sciences program will depend on research being an integral component of spaceflight operations and on astronauts’ participation in these endeavors being viewed as a component of each mission.
• The collection and analysis of a broad array of physiological and psychological data from astronauts before, during, and after a mission are necessary for advancing knowledge of the effects of the space environment on human health and for improving the safety of human space exploration. If there are legal concerns about implementing this approach, they could be addressed by the Department of Health and Human Services SACHRP.
A renewed funding base for fundamental and applied life and physical sciences research is essential for attracting the scientific community that is needed to meet prioritized research objectives. Researchers must have a reasonable level of confidence in the sustainability of research funding, if they are expected to direct their laboratories, staff, and students on research issues relevant to space exploration. Given the time frame required
for completion of the types and scales of experiments necessary for space exploration, grant funding mechanisms must typically span multiple years, with contingencies for delays in flight experiments. A stable research funding level is essential for re-invigorating a scientific community that will not only conduct the research to enable future space exploration but also advance scientific discoveries that are enabled by space exploration. Feedback from interviews, town hall meetings, and white paper submissions associated with this decadal survey suggested that a significant portion of the scientific community remains hopeful that NASA will restore and expand its sponsorship of life and physical sciences research. However, levels of skepticism are high. It is important for NASA to recognize that a failure to make good faith efforts at responding to the recommendations of this decadal survey could result in a loss of interest and support from the scientific community.
It is critical for a healthy space exploration research program, including a program of ground-based research, to support an appropriately balanced portfolio of intramural and extramural research (similar to the support of intramural and extramural research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where intramural research is approximately 10 percent of the budget). Although an intramural program is essential to ensure that there are timely and ongoing research efforts focused on barriers that limit space exploration, the current research portfolio is heavily weighted toward intramural projects. An extramural program increases the intellectual wealth and breadth of innovative crosscutting ideas to stimulate advances in both space exploration capabilities and fundamental scientific discoveries. The committee did not develop specific conclusions concerning the allocation of research funds between the intramural and extramural program. Its general conclusion was that the extramural budget has to be sufficiently large (e.g., about 75 percent of the total research budget) to support a robust extramural research program and to ensure that there will be a stable community of scientists who are prepared to lead future space exploration research and to train future researchers.
Research productivity will be optimized by strongly encouraging the collaboration of intramural scientists not only with extramural scientists but also with other agencies. It would be important that such opportunities for collaboration with other agencies be extended to both senior- and junior-level intramural laboratory personnel, with allowance for the release time and travel funds needed to support these activities. Life and physical sciences research for space exploration can potentially be supported by many federal agencies but, to date, efforts to align and coordinate research programs between such agencies have been only marginally successful. This may be due, in part, to the different missions of the respective agencies. However, there is a growing need to synergize multiagency efforts (as discussed below). This will become increasingly important following the retirement of the space shuttle from providing transportation services for research. An increased coordination among agencies would be expected to harness and leverage existing resources. Possible mechanisms for encouraging interagency collaborations include:
• Dedicated interagency funds for research that has applications on Earth and in space;
• Interagency strategic resource planning;
• Similar review process;
• Continued use of interagency workshops and symposia;
• Interagency dual-use technology pilot grant programs;
• Interagency, interdisciplinary mentored training programs; and
• Use of applicable mechanisms that already exist in other agencies (e.g., the Department of Energy).
Success for interagency initiatives will depend on support of such initiatives across the agencies, creation of a spirit of collaboration, and development of new partnerships leading to novel research teams. A comprehensive interagency team effort will serve as a creative scientific resource for implementation of a comprehensive space exploration research program.
However, success from such interactions will depend on the degree to which the collaboration is embraced by all stakeholders and seen as important to the mission of the specific agency. For example, the NIH may have little interest in supporting a project if the research funds are directed to the development of flight hardware for an experiment. It is promising that there are model collaborations from existing interdisciplinary programs in
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.
Scientists who plan to compete for major research grants typically conduct preliminary studies well in advance of submitting a grant application. Thus, familiarity with and predictability of the research solicitation process is critical for enabling researchers to plan and carry out activities in their laboratories that enable them to prepare high-quality research proposals. A regular frequency of solicitations, ideally with multiple solicitations per year, would serve to maintain a community of investigators focused on life and physical sciences research areas relevant to NASA, thereby creating a sustainable research network. This approach is used successfully by other major granting agencies including the NIH and NSF.
An important goal for any funding agency is to ensure that supported research projects are aligned with agency needs. To meet NASA’s future space exploration goals, complex scientific and engineering problems need to be solved. Many of these problems will require team-based solutions bridging multiple scientific domains, which can be difficult to organize and sustain. To specifically incentivize this approach, research solicitations need to target not only individual principal investigator-driven applications but also team-driven research involving investigators with complementary interests. Further, solicitations should include both broad research announcements to encourage a wide array of highly innovative research grant applications and targeted research announcements to ensure that high-priority mission-oriented goals are met. This multifaceted solicitation approach would be expected to attract cutting-edge life and physical sciences research that both enables and is enabled by space exploration.
The rejuvenation of a life and physical sciences research program at NASA will depend on effective communications with the scientific community regarding research opportunities. Other major funding organizations (e.g., NIH, NSF) have established web-based links on their home pages for the dissemination of research information. In contrast, the NASA home page has no obvious link for scientists seeking information on research opportunities. Updating and expanding the Life Sciences Data Archive home page to include information on physical sciences research and providing a direct link to this site from the NASA home page would facilitate better communication with the life and physical sciences communities.
The process of peer review is firmly established as a mechanism for identifying the most meritorious research in any scientific area. The concept is embraced by the global research community and viewed as a guarantor for a transparent, fair, and equitable process that results in significant scientific progress. Life and physical scientists are familiar with the peer-review process utilized by many federal agencies, and the research community as a whole has extensive experience in navigating such processes. The legitimacy of the peer-review process is highly dependent on the adoption of review-panel recommendations by the respective funding agencies. Failure to follow recommendations raises the risk of alienating the research community, unless it is performed in a transparent and legitimate manner. The committee believes that NASA has a well-designed peer-review system for the evaluation of extramural research applications. The fluid physics program is one example. Several of the proposals from this program have gone on to become flight experiments. However, the committee also believes that the standards for Non-Advocate Review of intramural research could be elevated by ensuring that the review process, including actions taken by NASA as a result of review recommendations, is more transparent and includes clear rationales for prioritizing both intramural and extramural investigations. Past NRC reports12 have noted that spaceflight opportunities should unconditionally give maximal access to peer-reviewed experiments that have a strong basis in ground tests and spaceflight performance verifications. Given the severe limitations of actual spaceflight access, it is important that spaceflights do not carry science that has not been deemed of high merit by peer review and prioritized by NASA or formal NASA science partnerships. For example, including experts in space medicine on peer-review panels for space life sciences would help achieve this goal. As part of this effort, it is also important that there be coordination among agency assets, commercial payload developers, and flight systems developers in a manner that serves the best science and reduces the end-to-end time for flight experiments.
The transparency of the process by which intramural and extramural research projects are selected for support after peer review for scientific merit could be ensured if NASA assembled a research advisory committee, composed of 10 to 15 independent life and physical scientists, to oversee and endorse the process. This committee would be charged with advising and making recommendations to the leadership of the life and physical sciences program
on matters relating to research activities. This could include an evaluation of the cost versus scientific benefit of proposed space-based research. A similar approach is used by the NIH, where advisory councils within each of the institutes and centers provide a second-tier review of research under consideration for funding. A NASA Research Advisory Committee for Life and Physical Sciences would ensure that the very limited opportunities and funds for space-based research are extended to the best combination of high-quality intramural and extramural studies and that appropriate progress toward research goals is achieved after protocols are in place. The creation of such an advisory body would be expected to re-establish a solid bridge with the scientific community by giving it a voice in guiding NASA life and physical sciences research.
• Regularly issued solicitations for NASA-sponsored life and physical sciences research are necessary to attract investigators to research that enables or is enabled by space exploration. Effective solicitations should include broad research announcements to encourage a wide array of highly innovative applications, targeted research announcements to ensure that high-priority mission-oriented goals are met, and team research announcements that specifically foster multidisciplinary translational research.
• The legitimacy of NASA’s peer-review systems for extramural and intramural research hinges on the assurance that the review process, including the actions taken by NASA as a result of review recommendations, is transparent and incorporates a clear rationale for prioritizing intramural and extramural investigations.
• The quality of NASA-supported research and the interactions with the scientific community would be enhanced by the assembly of a research advisory committee, composed of 10 to 15 independent life and physical scientists, to oversee and endorse the process by which intramural and extramural research projects are selected for support after peer review of their scientific merit. Such a committee would be charged with advising and making recommendations to the leadership of the life and physical sciences program on matters relating to research activities.
Realizing the growing challenge of the need to rapidly translate basic findings to applications, the biomedical research enterprise in the United States has reorganized to expand the emphasis on education and training programs for target audiences, ranging from practitioners to researchers to students, as one way to expedite the translation of discoveries to practice. One successful vehicle for these efforts is the recently launched, NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards. An ancillary goal of the CTSA program is to increase the number and quality of collaborations among practitioners, scientists, patients, and administrators.
The NIH model of research education, which provides training for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees (F and T awards) and junior faculty investigators (K awards), offers clues to how NASA could design unique educational programs that improve translation in the life and physical sciences, including some or all of the following elements:
• A curriculum-based program for flight surgeons and physician-astronauts to expand their research knowledge and skill set. Such programs are comparable to the NIH team-based K30 awards (clinical research curriculum awards).
• Mentored research training of junior faculty in biomedical sciences, similar to the NIH K (career development) awards. An essential element of these programs is that they demand that a majority of the trainee’s time be protected for instruction and research. When such expectations are not feasible or practical, CTSAs provide continuing and professional education in specific areas of research.
• Career enhancement awards for junior faculty in nonmedical life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. In the physical sciences and engineering, and in many nonmedically related disciplines in the life sciences, junior faculty are expected to develop independent research portfolios upon their academic appointment. Thus, to attract new talent, it is essential to create funding mechanisms specifically targeted for junior faculty. These
mechanisms typically provide significant multiyear support and are accompanied by recognition and prestige. Examples from which NASA could model such an award program include the NSF CAREER Award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program, the Army Research Office Young Investigator Program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, and DOE Early Career Research Program.
• Graduate student training opportunities. NASA should consider multiple mechanisms to attract graduate students to space research. Opportunities could include small student research awards, such as the one supported by NASA through the American College of Sports Medicine; research internship opportunities in NASA laboratories; and predoctoral training stipends, such as the NIH predoctoral National Research Service Award.
In addition to the NIH model, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute has a very successful training program13 that could be expanded. It includes (1) summer internships for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students; (2) graduate education opportunities, which are currently offered through Texas A&M University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and (3) postdoctoral research fellowships. Similar programs, if tailored to the concerns of extended-duration spaceflight, could also provide meaningful opportunities for management personnel, engineers, physicians, and astronauts to expand their understanding of the research payloads for which they are responsible. Moreover, such programs could include combinations of virtual and traditional modes of instruction.
A strong pipeline of intellectual capital can be developed by modeling a training and mentoring program after other successful programs in the life and physical sciences. A critical number of investigators is required to sustain a healthy and productive scientific community. Building a program in life and physical sciences would benefit from ensuring that an adequate number of investigators, including flight and ground-based investigators, are participating in research that will enable future space exploration.
• Educational programs and training opportunities effectively expand the pool of graduate students, scientists, and engineers who will be prepared to improve the translational application of fundamental and applied life and physical sciences research to space exploration needs.
Complex systems problems of the type that crewed missions will increasingly encounter will need to be solved with integrated teams that are likely to include scientists from a number of disciplines, as well as engineers, mission analysts, and technology developers. The interplay between and among the life and physical sciences and engineering, along with a strong focus on cost-effectiveness, will require multidisciplinary approaches. Multidisciplinary translational programs can link the science to the gaps in mission capabilities through planned and implemented data collection mechanisms.
Research Team Approach
A life and physical sciences research program capable of addressing the complex problems posed by space exploration must include both horizontal integration across multiple disciplines and vertical translation of fundamental discoveries to practical application. The dependencies across research objectives, particularly across the broad array of research within the life and physical sciences, can best be defined and addressed through a team research approach. As an example, the loss of bone and muscle tissue will remain a barrier to prolonged spaceflight until effective countermeasures are developed. Although microgravity per se triggers bone and muscle tissue loss because of the reduction in mechanical loading forces, losses are likely exacerbated by additional factors in the space environment (e.g., nutrition, hormonal disruptions, psychological stress). Thus, the development of effec-
tive countermeasure strategies requires input from experts across multiple disciplines (e.g., basic bone and muscle biologists, cardiovascular physiologists, endocrinologists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, biomechanists, behavioralists). Further, physical scientists and engineers must work side by side with life scientists to ensure that countermeasures developed and tested in ground-based studies can be implemented in the space environment.
In this regard, it is not surprising that exercise countermeasures for the preservation of bone and muscle mass on the ISS have been ineffective to date. Although new exercise equipment was recently positioned on the ISS, the previous generation of equipment did not have the capacity to provide an adequate stimulus intensity and, because of vibration issues, could not be used in a manner that would generate the desired high strain rates. If the development and deployment of such equipment is not driven by research needs, the quality of the research is compromised by the use of inferior technology. Such problems could seemingly be avoided or minimized by having life scientists, physical scientists, and engineers working together. An example of vertical integration in physical sciences would be collaboration among researchers with complementary talents and interests to develop a knowledge base that leads to design, development, and testing of the physical components (e.g., heat pipe radiator) of a system.
Beyond the need to provide scientific underpinnings to fulfill future space exploration goals, the space research community represents an ideal foundation where life and physical scientists and engineers can coalesce around common goals. Because scientific advances can occur as a result of serendipity, it is important to have life scientists, physical scientists, and engineers working side by side to take full advantage of both planned and serendipitous discoveries. Examples of the benefits of multidisciplinary interactions already exist. For instance, the development of protective gear and issues related to temperature and environment control during extravehicular activity have engaged both the life and physical sciences communities. Despite such examples, at this time a broad-based, multidisciplinary, integrative approach to conducting space exploration research has not been formally implemented. Because such research is more challenging to organize and conduct than research by individual investigators, scientists must be incentivized to participate in the former. Funding opportunities that require multidisciplinary research teams would provide the appropriate incentive. A long-term strategic plan to maximize team research opportunities and initiatives would be expected to lead to more-efficient solutions to the complex problems associated with space exploration. Implementing this initiative would require forming integrative teams of intramural and extramural scientists, with representation across the life and physical sciences, as well as across funding agencies, to assist in this crucial planning process. Team research models used in physical sciences and engineering by DARPA, with tangible outcomes at the end of the project, should be assessed and considered.
Translational Research—Advancing Research Discoveries to Mission Needs
To meet the demands for new scientific knowledge to guide future space missions, there is a strong need to improve the trajectory of research productivity. This might best be addressed by a systematic analysis of where inefficiencies might be occurring in the translational process. In the physical sciences, the gap between basic research studies and successful commercial or government applications has been referred to as “the valley of death.”14 Clinical and translational scientists in recent years have also begun to define particularly problematic gaps that commonly prove to be the “valley of death” for new drugs, devices, or interventions.
Overcoming, or at least minimizing, these gaps has been a hallmark of the CTSA program launched by NIH. The kinds of interventions currently being undertaken to improve the process of clinical and translational research in the CTSA network should be generalizable to various aspects of NASA’s research enterprise.
One important aspect of the CTSA program is the deployment of informatics capabilities addressing all aspects of the research process so that information captured about all transactions (e.g., research, contractual, bureaucratic, laboratory, facility, etc.) are monitored to examine inefficiencies that may be delaying or, in some cases, sidelining a rapid and orderly discovery process. As discussed above, this process also provides important tools for increasing communication among scientists and between NASA and the extramural research community of investigators in space life and physical sciences. Hallmarks of the CTSA approach include (1) focusing on investigator needs, (2) collecting and analyzing metrics to assist in the evaluation of the success of projects, (3) inclusion of auditing to insure evaluation metrics are available to support program review and future prioritization, (4) leveraging
existing resources whenever possible to avoid duplication of effort, and (5) building a well-connected community of investigators.
Centralized Information Networks
Centralized information networks based on NASA-sponsored research that are accessible to intramural and extramural investigators would be a valuable research tool. Modern analytical techniques offer a tremendous opportunity to understand the effects of spaceflight on life and physical science systems. High throughput techniques (e.g., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, etc.) generate vast amounts of data that can be mined and analyzed by multiple researchers. An example is the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project.15 The creation of a formalized program to promote the sharing and analysis of such data would greatly enhance the science derived from flight opportunities. Elements of such a program would include guidelines on data sharing and community access, with a focus on rapid updating of datasets for shared access while respecting the rights of the principal investigators and confidentiality of participants in experiments. A program of analysis grants dedicated to the spaceflight-derived datasets, including operational medical data, would provide value-added interpretation while ensuring that all data are maximally mined for information. Larger scale multiple investigator experiments, with related science objectives, methods, and common data products would result in the production of large datasets and would emphasize analysis over implementation. This type of dataset, which is similar to those used by the space and Earth sciences within NASA, would likely be a tremendous resource for student research.
Improved Access to Samples and Data from Astronauts
The medical and scientific communities interested in human health, safety, and performance during long-duration spaceflight have been consistent in their requests for greater access to biological samples and other data collected from astronauts before, during, and after space missions.16-19 The rights of astronauts to privacy have, at times, appeared to conflict with the need for access to valuable data to benefit future space travelers. One conclusion from the 2001 IOM report Safe Passage20 was that
NASA has devoted insufficient resources to developing and assessing the fundamental clinical information necessary for the safety of humans on long-duration missions beyond Earth orbit. Although humans have flown in space for nearly four decades, a paucity of useful clinical data have been collected and analyzed.
There are probably multiple reasons for the failure to advance this fundamental knowledge, including inadequate funding, competing mission priorities, lack of attention to research, and restricted access to data and biological samples. The IOM report included suggestions for resolving this conflict. Among the recommendations were that NASA should (1) establish a comprehensive health information system for astronauts, for the purpose of collecting and analyzing data, and (2) develop a strategic research plan designed to increase the knowledge base about the risks to astronaut health. Some of these goals have been met, but much remains to be completed to provide more widespread scientific access to such data.
There are potentially three different types of research that are important for advancing knowledge of the biological effects of the space environment, each with unique strategies for collecting biomedical data. The first is hypothesis-driven experiments designed for space that generate data to address specific biological questions. Such data may already be available through the Life Sciences Data Archive,21 which according to its webpage is an active archive that provides information and data from spaceflight experiments funded by NASA. However, this archive does not appear to be current; some of the “New Experiments” described on the homepage are decades old. Although there is a mechanism to search the database, this approach yields only summary data from the experiments. The second type of research capitalizes on routinely captured operational data that could be used to address biomedical research questions. For example, NASA already has extensive operational data (e.g., the precision of navigation maneuvers) that could be linked to data on crew characteristics and made available for data mining. The
availability of operational data would enable scientists to address such questions as whether astronauts who perform with less precision in space are characterized by potential mediators of performance (e.g., sleep disruption, motion sickness). The third type of research is on the acute and persistent effects of spaceflight on health. This approach requires the creation of a long-term astronaut health information registry to learn what, if any, chronic health problems are encountered by flight crews, including long after their mission. There is relatively little knowledge of long-term changes in the health of astronauts who have flown on long-duration space missions. As discussed above, policies on the availability of and access to astronaut health records have severely limited knowledge of the effects of the space environment on health, while hindering the development of effective countermeasures.
A strategy that would benefit all three of these research approaches would be the creation of robust databases that could be used by extramural scientists to address research questions. The databases could be populated retrospectively, with currently archived data from NASA-sponsored projects in the Life Sciences Data Archive, archived data from flight medicine, and available long-term follow-up health data such as the Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health,22 with plans to expand the databases prospectively. The databases could be generated through a formal research announcement to attract experienced independent investigators who have established similar population databases (e.g., Nurses’ Health Study, the Framingham Study, the Women’s Health Initiative). Coupling the database with a genetic bank and repository of astronaut samples would ensure the availability of the maximal amount of data to address future investigations. Because of the limited number of humans who undergo exposure to the space environment, maintaining an extensive and well-organized database and managing it as a resource to be shared with the scientific community has long been viewed an essential step for scientific discovery. At the same time, because few humans undergo exposure to the space environment, it is recognized that even a de-identified database may not fully protect the confidentiality of data.23 As discussed above, the need to understand the risks of long-duration space exposure should be viewed as at least as high a priority as the protection of individual data privacy because the future of space exploration hinges on a solid knowledge of health risks. The informed consent process for astronauts can clearly specify the sources and types of data, including data collected from activities other than predefined research projects, that could be used for research purposes.
• A long-term strategic plan to maximize team research opportunities and initiatives would accelerate the trajectory of research discoveries and improve the efficiency of translating those discoveries to solutions for the complex problems associated with space exploration.
• Improved central information networks would facilitate data sharing with and analysis by the life and physical sciences communities and would enhance the science results derived from flight opportunities.
• Improving the access of the scientific community to samples and data collected from astronauts via central information networks would advance knowledge of the effects of the space environment on human health and improve the safety of space exploration. Any concerns regarding the confidentiality of data could best be addressed by the Department of Health and Human Services SACHRP.
It is important that NASA’s commercial sector interactions be as conducive to the advancement of science, technology, and economic growth as possible. As an example, contract specifications for commercial flight providers may hinder research unless they are formulated with specific requirements to accommodate science needs. Because up-mass to and down-mass from the ISS may be delivered by commercial contractors in the future, it is important that the contract specifications for vehicles include adequate capacity for transporting biological and/or inorganic samples and test apparatus. Conditioned down-mass is of particular importance because there are limited facilities on the ISS for storage of samples. Unless suitable down-mass transportation is made available, only the relatively simple analyses that can be conducted on the ISS will be feasible.
Broad, multidisciplinary teams will be necessary to coordinate and integrate activities across the commercial sector, the space medicine community, and the space operations community. Issues related to the control of intel-
lectual property, technology transfer, conflicts of interest, and data integrity will also have to be addressed. In 2009 NASA issued an opportunity for non-U.S. government entities to propose uses of the ISS,24 and in 2010, NASA issued a draft Cooperative Agreement Notice for management of the U.S. portion of the ISS for non-U.S. government users.25 In both cases, private-sector entities are specifically targeted.
Commercial suborbital spaceflight is on the horizon and has the potential to provide a platform for the study in reduced gravity of rapidly occurring processes such as combustion phenomena. Several companies are now developing the hardware and procedures for suborbital flights.26 The flights will be available to the public, initially at high cost but becoming more affordable as operations continue. While flight trajectories, and therefore dynamics, differ among the companies and remain to some extent proprietary, it is reasonable to expect flights to reach peak altitudes in the range of 100 km and flight times of about 15 min. Hypergravity launch and landing phases will surround a free-fall or near weightless (milli-gravity) phase of 4- to 5-min duration. One aspect that needs to be addressed is how to make flight opportunities available to the research community. A typical NIH or NSF grant, for example, will likely support only one or two such flights, which obviates much of their appeal. One approach is for funding agencies (NASA, NIH, NSF) to pool resources and purchase a set of flights to be dedicated to life and physical sciences or to research in general.
Vehicles under development by commercial suborbital companies, such as Virgin Galactic, Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, and XCOR Aerospace, will allow unprecedented access to the space environment and a new way to engage scientists, university researchers, and students.27 The scientific community has reacted enthusiastically to the promise of these vehicles, with more than 200 scientists from around the country participating in a series of workshops with suborbital vehicle developers, a distinguished group of scientists coming together to form the Suborbital Applications Researchers Group, and a conference on next-generation suborbital research. NASA also quickly recognized the potential of commercial suborbital spacecraft and has formed the NASA Commercial Re-usable Suborbital Research Program at NASA Ames Research Center.28 It is important that these types of educational networking opportunities be fostered to help catalyze research interactions among commercial developers, the scientific community, and NASA.
• With the retirement of the space shuttle pending, it will be important for NASA to foster interactions with the commercial sector, particularly commercial flight providers, in a manner that addresses research needs, with attention to such issues as control of intellectual property, technology transfer, conflicts of interest, and data integrity.
NASA has the opportunity to leverage scientific advances in the life and physical sciences funded by other agencies and by other countries and to develop partnerships that produce research results that have genuine benefits to both partners.
Domestic Examples of Potential Synergies in the Life Sciences
• Commercial companies. Personalized medicine, which is being funded for use in many biomedical fields, including oncology, cardiovascular disease, and predicting responses to certain therapeutic drugs, could prove enormously beneficial to NASA.
• Human health. NIH is developing the methodology necessary to provide for the healthcare needs of today’s civilian populations. Astronauts and other human beings in the future who may wish to travel and live in space vehicles and habitats can benefit from and contribute to research across multiple domains (e.g., bone, muscle, sleep, behavior). The unique environments in microgravity may provide a set of physical stimuli to humans that can lead to insights into human health and biology unachievable through any other research.
• Radiation biology and health physics. DOE and DOD have requirements to understand the effects of radia-
tion on humans. There may be joint-funding opportunities where radiation health issues overlap and results are of mutual interest. DOE has a low-dose radiation program, and NASA cofunds selected projects that it believes will be of scientific benefit. Further, because the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory is the only site in the United States where biology research with energetic charged particles other than protons can be conducted, and because interest is growing in other countries in the development of charged particles for use in cancer therapy, answers to questions of interest to both NASA and the National Cancer Institute at the NIH might be pursued in an economical manner.
Domestic Examples in the Physical Sciences
• DOE and NSF. As an example of the kinds of joint opportunities that could be developed here, there is a growing community of researchers worldwide who are interested in performing carefully conducted laboratory physics experiments that address select obstacles that physics faces today and that will exploit the benefits of a space environment. DOE, NASA, and NSF have jointly funded the recent report of the NRC Committee on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Sciences, which emphasized the significant discovery potential of future space-based experiments using new technologies and laboratory techniques that have the ability to probe the fundamental laws of nature at the highest levels of accuracy.29
• DOD. Multiagency support coordinated by DARPA and formulated through joint workshops could lead to significant progress in developing, for example, quantum technologies for space applications that benefit the entire discipline of space-based research in fundamental physics.
• Federal Aviation Administration. The Federal Aviation Administration will soon issue an award for a Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. As a result, there may be numerous opportunities for synergistic research projects.
Opportunities for International Collaborations
Because opportunities available for space-based experiments are extremely limited, significant collaboration with various international partners could avoid duplication of experimental capabilities in proposed experiments and ensure facilities are used to the maximum extent possible at the lowest cost. Collaboration with international agencies such as ESA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) could provide a coherent, defensible, research program that maximizes the experimental, analytical, and numerical capabilities of researchers worldwide.
As just one example of a successful international collaboration, the recent Super Critical Water Oxidation research at NASA Glenn Research Center has provided the basis of a new flight investigation on the ISS. A team of scientists at Glenn Research Center has partnered with scientists from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales and the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry at Bordeaux of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in an investigation entitled the Supercritical Water Mixture experiment. The experiment is scheduled to be performed in the DECLIC2 facility on the ISS early in calendar year 2011.
Information on international project collaborations between NASA and ESA to design and build unique pieces of equipment for skeletal muscle and sensory-motor function testing has been produced by the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System project. Several bed rest studies were sponsored by both ESA and NASA, including the Women’s International Space Simulation Exploration study.
Promoting National and International Synergies
The following are examples of strategies that could be used to promote multinational efforts and synergies in biological and physical sciences space research.
• Hold joint workshops, including webinars.
• Have members of other agencies on peer-review teams.
• Develop joint working groups.
• Encourage through solicitations the development of joint proposal efforts.
As an example of the third strategy, NASA Advanced Life Support representatives participate annually with the International Advanced Life Support Working Group. Members include personnel from NASA Headquarters, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, and Ames Research Center. Other participating agencies include ESA, JAXA, the Russian Institute of Biophysics, and the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems. Through fellowships sponsored by the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science, a number of visits and collaborations were facilitated between NASA and Japanese scientists.
As an example of the fourth strategy, the Space-Time Asymmetry Research (STAR) project, a jointly proposed concept by the NASA Ames Research Center, Stanford University, and international partners from Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, will test isotropy and symmetry of space-time at unprecedented precision. The STAR program is predicated upon building a series of focused, small-satellite missions. STAR will take an incremental mission approach, flying instruments with progressively increased precision and measurement scope in each of five flights. The program is designed specifically to attract extensive research participation and leadership by university students. STAR will challenge curious, young minds and train the next generation of space scientists and engineers.
Currently, life and physical science endeavors focused on understanding phenomena in low-gravity environments have no clear institutional home at NASA. As determined by the committee from an examination of the highly varied history of these programs and as discussed in the final report of the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (also known as the Augustine Commission or Augustine Committee),30 administratively embedding crucial forward-looking elements (such as the Life and Physical Sciences Research program) in larger or operationally focused organizations virtually guarantees that the resources for such elements will be depleted by other needs.
This chapter has focused on the essential needs for a successful renewed research endeavor in life and physical sciences. In the context of a programmatic home for an integrated research agenda, program leadership and execution are likely to be productive only if aggregated under a single management structure and housed in a NASA directorate or key organization that understands both the value of science and its potential application in future exploration missions.
• Leadership with both true scientific gravitas and a sufficiently high level in the overall organizational structure at NASA is needed to ensure that there will be a “voice at the table” when the agency engages in difficult deliberations about prioritizing resources and engaging in new activities.
• The successful renewal of a life and physical sciences research program will depend on strong leadership with a unique authority over a dedicated and enduring research funding stream.
• It is important that the positioning of leadership within the agency allows both the conduct of the necessary research programs as well as interactions, integration, and influence within the mission-planning elements that develop new exploration options.
The committee recognized that the withdrawal of NASA support of life and physical sciences research over the past decade occurred for multiple reasons, many of which were unavoidable. Now that the assembly of the ISS is complete, it is time for NASA to turn to its goal of re-establishing support for life and physical sciences research. Building a “new” NASA Life and Physical Sciences Research Program will pose great challenges but will
also present the opportunity to adopt modern-day approaches to solving the complex problems inherent to space exploration. The programmatic conclusions in this report are intended as a guide to restore research activities to a level of excellence that will ensure that NASA remains the undisputed international leader of life and physical sciences research that enables future space exploration and advances fundamental scientific discovery.
1. National Research Council. 2003. Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA. The National Academies Press, Washington D.C.
2. Tomko, D.L., NASA. 2009. “History of Life and Physical Sciences Research Programs at NASA,” presentation to the Committee for the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, May 6. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.
3. Souza, K., G. Etheridge, and P.X. Callahan, eds. 2000. Post-1995 missions and payloads. Chapter 5 in Life into Space: Space Life Sciences Experiments. Ames Research Center, Kennedy Space Center, 1991-1998. NASA SP-2000-534. NASA, Washington D.C.
5. National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.
6. Institute of Medicine. 2001. Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.
7. National Research Council. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.
8. Institute of Medicine. 2001. Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.
9. For more information see Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Human Research Protections, Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, Charter, available at http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/sachrp/charter/index.html.
10. NIH Record. 2007. NIH, NASA Partner for Health Research in Space. Volume LIX, No. 21, October 19. Available at http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2007/10_19_2007/story1.htm.
11. Memorandum of Understanding between the National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for Cooperation in Space-Related Health Research. See http://www.niams.nih.gov/News_and_Events/NIH_NASA_Activities/nih_nasa_mou.asp.
12. National Research Council. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.
14. National Research Council. 2005. Accelerating Technology Transition: Bridging the Valley of Death for Materials and Processes in Defense Systems. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
16. National Research Council. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
17. National Research Council. 2000. Review of NASA’s Biomedical Research Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
18. National Research Council and National Academy of Public Administration. 2003. Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
19. Institute of Medicine. 2007. Review of NASA’s Space Flight Health Standards-Setting Process: Letter Report. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
20. Institute of Medicine. Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions. National Academy Press, Washington D.C., p. 71.
22. The Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health was reviewed in the 2004 Institute of Medicine report Review of NASA’s Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health (The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.).
23. National Institutes of Health. Educational Materials. HIPAA Privacy Rule. Information for Researchers. Research Repositories, Databases, and the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Available at http://privacyruleandresearch.nih.gov/research_repositories.asp.
24. NASA. 2009. National Lab Opportunity. NNH09CAO003O. Issued August 6, 2009.
25. NASA. 2010. Cooperative Agreement Notice, draft, NNH11SOMD002C.
26. Sanderson, K. 2010. Science lines up for seat to space. Nature 463:716-717.
27. Commercial Spaceflight Federation. 2009. “Using Next-Generation Suborbital Spacecraft for Research and Education Missions in the Biological and Physical Sciences,” presentation to the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, October. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.
29. National Research Council. 2007. Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
30. Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee. 2009. Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation. Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, D.C., October, p. 113. Available at http://legislative.nasa.gov/396093main_HSF_Cmte_FinalReport.pdf.
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