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NASA administrator launches Space Station R&D conference

Stephen Kuper
NASA Administrator launches Space Station R&D conference

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to open the ninth annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference as the microgravity laboratory celebrates the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence in space.

The theme of this year’s conference is “From Vision to Discovery”, focusing on how the past can better inform the future. The virtual conference will take place over three separate days starting Thursday, 27 August, and continuing Thursday, 17 September, with the final session on Thursday, 22 October.

This is the only annual conference that explores in detail the full breadth of research and technology development currently underway on the orbiting laboratory, as well as prospective research to span the life of the station.

The virtual conference will feature plenary session dates across a three-month window to provide interested viewers ample time to plan in advance to join sessions pertinent to their interests and careers.


On day one of plenary sessions – Thursday, 27 August – there will be a strong focus on NASA-led commercialisation initiatives, updates from NASA leadership, and discussions on the evolution of the International Space Station US National Laboratory. Day two, on Thursday, 17 September, will take a deeper dive into the business trends of researchers leveraging the station.

The final day of the conference, 22 October, will touch on a myriad of science and educational activities, with the last session of the day focusing on 20 years of student investigations enabled by the orbiting laboratory.

Keynote speakers include NASA’s Director of Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister, Acting International Space Station Director Robyn Gatens, Low-Earth Orbit Commercialisation Manager Angela Hart, and Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Chief Operating Officer Ken Shields.

In addition to the Administrator, other NASA special guests include Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Kathryn Lueders and International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano.


New science and commercial opportunities aboard the International Space Station will enable new low-Earth orbit markets and advance the exploration goals of NASA and its international partners so that humankind can return sustainably to the moon in the coming years, including landing the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024 as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

This November, NASA and its international and commercial partners will be celebrating 20 years of humans living and working continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, and making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.

As a global endeavor, 240 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from researchers in more than 100 countries.

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