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Guest: Mounir Alafrangy; Topics: R&D, commercial and scientific experiments on the ISS, how to apply, program details, ISS priorities, and the ISS R&D upcoming conference for the latter part of July, www.issconference.org.
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Mr. Mounir Alafrangy was welcomed to the program for a 67 minute discussion about commercial, scientific, and government experiments on the ISS which is a United States taxpayer financed National Laboratory. Our guest, the Commercial Innovation Manager and Technology Lead for the ISS National Lab, explained the process for apply to have your experiment on the ISS, the steps one goes through, the cost issues as to what NASA and others pay plus what the experimenter pays as his share of the experiment expenses. Note that he said there have been rough estimates of the hourly billing rate, were such a rate to exist, for astronauts serving as the operational PI for the onboard experiments. When you hear him state the probable hour rate ($17,000) which he did during the early part of the program, I suggest a surprise may be awaiting you given what he said. Our guest talked about lead time from the time of application to flight, plus he detailed the intervening steps along the way from application to flight. He even estimated the success rate through each step. One thing he pointed out was the value of analog missions here on Earth. Don't miss what he said about such missions and their value. During each part of the discussion our guest was explaining to us how the program worked plus what the applicant must do and must submit based on a time and date requirement. Mounir was very detailed and concise so if you have an interest in doing an experiment relevant to your business or to a science project, do listen to our guest because his comments will serve as quality personal tutorial.
Our guest said there were two application periods per year. The current application period will close on August 8 so potential projects/experiments must be submitted by that date. In addition, at the end of our program, he pointed out the ISS R& D Conference which he said would be very helpful for both potential and confirmed applicants. You can find out more about this July 2022 event at www.issconference.org. Our guest then offered examples of company experiments. Most of the examples were from large corporations but a listener did ask about small business and even entrepreneurs flying an experiment on the ISS. Mounir said yes to all of what the guest talked but if you fall into the smaller category, you definitely want to listen to what he said about the application process all the way through to flight.
Todd sent in a note asking about the possibility of international experiments. Our guest said since this was all funded by U.S. taxpayers, the program was only available to U.S. citizens and residents. Mounir was asked about experiments from countries that were a party to the ISS agreements. Don't miss what he said about that category of experiment on station. Other listener questions wanted to if there was a Plan B should Russia pull out of the station earlier than the suggested termination date for the ISS. He did not know what such plans were or if there was a Plan B. Fremont John wanted to know how the ISS was transitioning to private space stations such as Axiom. Also considering the possibility of free fliers. Bill wanted to know more about the payload sharing relationship with NASA and the U.S. Tim from Huntsville wanted to inquire about a possible payload from an organization such as NSS. Toward the end of the program, Ben from Tulsa sent in a note asking about ISS lab priorities. Drug R&D along with tissue like R&D and chip issues were mentioned as priorities but not the only priorities.
Please post your comments/questions for our guest on the blog for this program. Our guest can be reached through me or the ISS National Laboratory.