Independence Day is not the only important fourth this July. Hot on the heels of the holiday is the fourth annual International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development Conference, which takes place in Boston July 7 to 9. Launching this year's event is a keynote speaker who lives up to one of the core conference themes of gaining a new perspective: Elon Musk, chief executive officer and lead designer at SpaceX.
"To welcome this diverse set of new and existing ISS users we were looking for a keynote speaker whose name is synonymous with the future of innovation," said Brian Talbot, marketing and communications director with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). "Elon Musk is an ideal fit for this role. Elon's passion for discovery and exploration appeals to business leaders, research and development professionals, and the space community."
Musk was at the helm in designing the Dragon spacecraft--the first commercial vehicle to berth with the space station. SpaceX continues to transport resupply missions to and from the space station multiple times each year, the latest launch having departed on Jan. 10. NASA recently selected SpaceX, along with Boeing, to finalize their vehicle designs capable of ferrying a commercial crew to the station.
The multidisciplinary space station's array of research areas for new and potential users is reflected in the span of topics for the conference's call for papers. This includes biology and medicine, human health in space, commercialization and nongovernment utilization, materials development, plant science, remote sensing/Earth and space observation, energy, STEM education, and technology development and demonstration. The deadline for submissions of abstracts is March 2.
During the conference, attendees will have a chance to build connections, talk innovation with peers and experts, and grow their current knowledge of microgravity research. While visiting sessions at the Boston Marriott Copley Hotel, they also can learn about the latest results, upcoming investigations in orbit, and opportunities to get their ideas from concept to launch.
"The focus of this year's conference is bringing a new population of users to the space station by showing how the orbiting laboratory can be a valuable part of their future," said Christian Maender, NASA's ISS National Laboratory Office deputy manager for commercial utilization at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "Now in its fourth year, the conference will explore a wide range of important areas of research and development that leverage the station as an incredible platform for learning, discovery and innovation."
Registration for the ISS Research and Development Conference is now open and additional speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. The event is organized by the American Astronautical Society and CASIS in cooperation with NASA. The annual meeting is the only U.S. conference to detail the space station's many capabilities along with an array of research and technology development.
This July the ISS Research and Development Conference will be a fourth to remember, complete with participants interested and already successful in launching more than just fireworks towards the heavens. While quite the impressive display of sparks with each take-off, it's the benefits from space station research and technology that will keep the world watching.