Commercial access for UK/ESA student experiments on board the ISS

Gaffney, Christopher and Nartallo, Ramon and Neri, Gianluca and Zolesi, David and Torregrossa, Roberta and Deane, Colleen and Whiteman, Matt and Etheridge, Timothy and Ellwood, Rebecca and Cooke, Michael and Gharahdaghi, Nima and Piasecki, Mathew and Phillips, Bethan and Szewczyk, Nathaniel (2020) Commercial access for UK/ESA student experiments on board the ISS. In: Proceedings of the 3rd Symposium on Space Educational Activities. University of Leicester, Leicester, pp. 152-154. ISBN 9781912989096

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School students in the US have the ability to commercially fly experiments on-board the International Space Station (ISS) via programmes like the Nanoracks sponsored Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP). Programs like SSEP do allow international schools to participate but similar programmes do not currently exist within the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA does, however, support commercial access to space via companies like Airbus and Kayser Italia. A key principle of SSEP is that students propose to fly experiments that will work within existing spaceflight hardware. This is similar to the idea of using standardized CubeSat platforms in education and ESA’s long-standing use of standardized Experiment Containers (ECs). These ECs form the starting point for Airbus and Kayser Italia’s commercial access programmes. In 2018 we were selected by the UK Space Agency to develop and fly a UK national payload to the ISS. This payload will conduct scientific experiments proposed by ourselves, international partners, and schools in the UK. All experiments will take place inside ECs that are refurbished, and flight qualified in the UK. If we can successfully conduct student experiments during this mission, we will have demonstrated the possibility of conducting UK student experiments in space via a UK company. This should pave the way for UK-based commercial access to the ISS that could be used by schools much like the US based SSEP.

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26 Apr 2021 12:05
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12 Sep 2023 03:04