According to an article in Space News: "What we're looking for are some of those very specific examples of things that can be done better in space than on Earth," Timothy Yeatman, CASIS's interim chief scientist, said. Protein crystallization best fits the bill, Yeatman said, citing the decision of a blue-ribbon panel of science experts CASIS convened to evaluate which scientific fields were likeliest to be advanced through in-space experiments."
Growing perfect crystals in space (on the Space Shuttle and Space Station) has been one of NASA's favorite promotional items in its mantra of promoting the use of the ISS as a "world class laboratory". The need for large crystals grown at great expense in space is quickly vanishing due to advances made on Earth. As mentioned in the earlier posts below, NASA dragged its feet on this and missed the bus.
Yet if you go to any of the agency's ISS websites - or read the promotional materials about research opportunities - not a word is offered about new and cheaper ground-based alternatives to growing large crystals in space. That's because the agency is incapable of staying current on the very science it is trying to promote - or being intellectually honest with people as they continue to use outdated reasons to hype the ISS. Now CASIS has fallen into the same trap.
There is an important difference between research that you can do in space - and research that you should do in space.
I'll be willing to bet that pharmaceutical and biotech companies are a bit more up to date on this stuff than CASIS' blue-ribbon panel of advisors - advisors they have yet to name publicly - or are they the "CASIS Biological Sciences Review Panel" listed in this release?. CASIS is not clear on this since most (if not all) of the review panel members have no obvious connection to space research.
Why wait years and spend a lot of money to do this in space using old technology when the field has already outpaced NASA on Earth? Unless,of course, that "3-5 year" time frame that Mark Uhran complained about the other day can be cut to 3-5 months.
- While NASA Flies In Circles Technology Advances Back on Earth, earlier post
- Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
- Selling a Space Station That Takes Too Long To Use, earlier post