2015 ISS R&D Conference – Evolution or Revolution

The 2015 International Space Station Research & Development Conference (ISS R&D) took place recently in Boston, MA from July 7-9.

It was an amazing week of insights and information on the innovations and discoveries taking place on board the ISS, as well as glimpses of the achievements yet to come.

2015 ISS R&D

A highlight of the first day was a conversation with Elon Musk, who mused on his initial commercial forays into space, the state of his transformative company SpaceX, and a view of his vision for the future of space travel, research and exploration.

Core topics discussed at ISS R&D 2015 included everything from biology and human health, to materials development and plant science, to remote sensing and Earth observation, to space travel and human exploration. Here are a few of the top highlights:

  • NASA and its partner agencies have transitioned from assembling an amazingly complex vehicle in space to now utilizing this vehicle for the benefit of humanity.
  • The feat of building and maintaining the International Space Station is often underrated and overlooked, but it’s an incredible achievement, and everyone is encouraged to explore the marvels of what has been, and continues to be, accomplished.
  • We are advancing to a future where space transport will become commonplace, and it is the science, humanitarian, exploration and business opportunities that will be the new focus of ISS utilization.
  • The ISS is an entrepreneur engine, as evidenced in part by the rise of the new space economy. For example, new markets are emerging in the remote sensing domain, with NanoRacks, Teledyne Brown Engineering and Urthecast all making investments in expanding Earth observation from the ISS.
  • The future of the ISS, and its continued operation, is a direct function of the success or failure of what is happening on the ISS right now. The greater the success, the brighter the future.

Throughout the week a question was often asked whether the ISS is evolutionary or revolutionary… and in the end the answer was both!

Interested in learning more about the ISS? Visit the recently launched website  spacestationresearch.com to “explore the new era of science in space for life on Earth”.

Also, save the data for next year’s conference, which is taking place July 12-14, 2016 in San Diego, California. See you there!

“Space is now closer than you think.”

Innovations and Innovators in Space – Elon Musk to speak at upcoming ISS R&D Conference 2015

Join us at ISS R&D 2015 – the International Space Station Research & Development Conference taking place in Boston, MA from July 7-9 – to connect with game-changing scientists and other experts who are driving innovation through space research.

This year’s featured keynote speaker is Elon Musk – transformative entrepreneur and space visionary – who will be taking the stage on Tuesday July 7 to share “his thoughts on enabling a new era of innovators through space exploration and the International Space Station.”

Elon Musk Keynote Speaker - ISS R&D 2015

Core topics to be discussed at ISS R&D 2015 include 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.

Are you new to space research? If so, see how space can you elevate your research! There’s a New User Workshop being held on Monday July 6 before the conference begins to introduce interested users to the benefits of conducting research in microgravity and utilizing the ISS for Earth observation.

For more information on the conference: http://www.issconference.org/

We look forward to seeing you there.

Celebrating a Milestone – HySpeed Computing Blog Reaches 10,000 Views

HySpeed Computing 10000We would like to thank the community and all our followers for making the HySpeed Computing blog a success.  We appreciate your support and look forward to providing you many more informative posts.

Notable highlights and achievements for the blog include:

Let us know what topics you would like to see included.

Thank you!

Science and Innovation on the International Space Station – 2014 ISS R&D Conference

ISS R&D 2014 logoDiscoveries, Applications and Opportunities” was the theme of the 3rd annual International Space Station Research and Development (ISS R&D) conference, held in Chicago, IL from 17-19 June 2014.

From life sciences and biotechnology to physical sciences and Earth observation, the breadth of topics discussed at this conference was inspiring. The ISS represents a truly remarkable orbiting platform for performing unique scientific research, promoting education opportunities, and developing applications and products that benefit life here on Earth.

Additionally, with the recent focus on commercialization of space, entrepreneurs and innovators now have greater access than ever before to utilize the unique capabilities the ISS has to offer. In 2005, the U.S. portion of the ISS was designated a national laboratory, which included a specific directive to expand its utilization amongst both government and private entities alike. To help accomplish this objective, in 2011, NASA selected the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage and maximize use of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

“By carefully selecting research and funding projects, by connecting investors looking for opportunity to scientists with great ideas, and by making access to the station faster and easier, CASIS will drive scientific inquiry toward developing groundbreaking new technologies and products that will tangibly affect our lives.” (www.iss-casis.org)

Example case studies of entrepreneurship on the ISS presented at the conference included, among others: D-Orbit, a company focused on reducing the proliferation of space debris; Benevolent Technologies, a healthcare company developing custom fit prosthetics using remold-able material; Kentucky Space, a non-profit consortium supporting medical and other research projects in microgravity; and Zero Gravity Solutions, a company that has developed a micronutrient delivery system allowing plants to absorb specific minerals and nutrients.

Also presented at the conference were various sensor systems and instrumentation capabilities utilizing the ISS as a platform for Earth observation. For example, representatives from NanoRacks, PlanetLabs, Urthecast and Teledyne Brown Engineering participating in a panel discussion on why their companies selected the ISS and what their vision is for the future of remote sensing from the ISS. Other conference sessions on Earth observation included:

  • a smartphone app from the Environmental Protection Agency for monitoring water quality;
  • a web-enabled image processing system developed by HySpeed Computing;
  • sensor characteristics, data availability and image applications using ISERV Pathfinder, ISS-IMAP, ISS Agricultural Camera and RapidScat; and
  • participation of ISS in image collection for disaster response.

As another focus, beyond today’s current ISS capabilities, and even beyond the limits of Earth itself, the conference also included a plenary session devoted to how the ISS is being used for technology and human health research as a pathway to Mars exploration. And another plenary session, which included representatives from Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Boeing, and Blue Origin, provided an overview of “getting there and back” – highlighting the latest developments in commercial vehicles for human spaceflight.

There is truly an incredible amount of science being conducted more than 300 km above our heads. The above are but a few of the many exceptional presentations, which also included talks by Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting and NASA Astronauts Greg Johnson, Nicole Stott and John Grunsfeld.

To attend or participate in next year’s conference, which will take place 7-9 July 2015 in Boston, MA, just visit www.astronautical.org. The call for papers will be released in September 2014. See you there!

One Rocket & 29 Satellites – A new launch record

Minotaur I launch 11.19.2013

ORS-3 Minotaur I launch 11.19.2013 (image: NASA/Chris Perry)

On Nov. 19, in a specular nighttime launch, a U.S. Air Force Minotaur I rocket was launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and into the history books. With 29 satellites onboard, this mission set a new record for total number of satellites launched on a single rocket.

Referred to as the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office ORS-3 mission, this launch not only sets a record, but more importantly, is also enabling significant amounts of space and satellite related research to be conducted using the 29 satellites. Appropriately, the Air Force thus also refers to this launch as an enabler mission.

The primary payload onboard the Minotaur I rocket was the U.S. Air Force’s STPSat-3 (Space Test Program Satellite-3), which will support a variety of research experiments related to satellite operations and measuring the space environment. This includes, among others, experiments to characterize the Earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere, measure plasma densities and energies, and monitor total solar incident irradiance, as well as a specialized module to assist with satellite de-orbiting at the conclusion of its operating lifetime.

In addition to the STPSat-3 satellite, the ORS-3 mission included 28 CubeSats contributed by numerous organizations, including NASA, universities, and even a high school. Here’s a list of a few of the different CubeSats launched in this record-breaking mission.

  • TJ3Sat: (Thomas Jefferson High School) This is the first ever satellite designed and built by high school students. Its mission is to engage students in space science and provide educational resources for other K-12 institutions to build their own satellites. The satellite itself is designed to allow users to upload approved text messages, convert the texts to voice signals, and then relay these audio messages back to Earth over an amateur radio frequency.
  • KySAT-2: (Kentucky Space Consortium) In a show of determination after the rocket carrying KySat-1 failed to achieve orbit back in 2011, students at the University of Kentucky and Morehead University persevered to design and build KySat-2. This satellite includes a digital camera, temperature sensor, and stellar gyroscope, as well as communication systems to receive commands and transmit data and photos to the ground station.
  • Firefly: (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) This satellite will be used to investigate links between lightning and terrestrial gamma ray flashes, exploring what initiates lightning and what effects it has on the atmosphere.
  • COPPER: (St. Louis University) Testing a commercial off-the-shelf infrared imager, this satellite is examining the instrument’s suitability for Earth observation and space situational awareness.
  • DragonSat-1: (Drexel University and U.S. Naval Academy) This satellite is being used to acquire images of the northern and southern lights and also demonstrate deployment of a gravity gradient boom for passive attitude stabilization.
  • PhoneSat 2.4: (NASA Ames Research Center) This is a follow-on to NASA’s previous PhoneSat mission, which launched three CubeSats earlier in 2013, and is being used to further demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and utility of using low-cost smartphones for satellite operation.

With the surge in popularity of CubeSats, and their relative ease of deployment, it’s an exciting time to be involved in space research and operations. A new era of space science has arrived, and era in which satellite access is more available to more people than ever before.

So get out there and see how you can participate. Maybe you too can soon launch your own satellite.

For a complete list of satellites launched during the ORS-3 mission, refer to these related articles posted by Space.com and NASASpaceflight.com.

Space Science Now – Mobile Apps from the European Space Agency

ESA AppsAre you a big fan of all things SPACE – such as space science, space research and space exploration? Did you see our previous post on NASA mobile apps, and still want more? If so, here’s a list of additional apps from the European Space Agency (ESA) that should be just what you’re looking for. Included in these apps are descriptions of different satellite missions, access to the latest ESA images and videos, the ability to track satellite locations in real-time, details on the latest ESA projects and achievements, and so much more.

ESA – European Space Agency. “ESA is Europe’s gateway to space. Join us on our exciting journeys and see how space benefits all of us on Earth. The ESA App delivers a wealth of information on ESA missions, videos, images and news updates, at your fingertips. ESA Live allows you to watch live events and programmes such as launches, docking, press conferences, tweetups and other major events.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod

ESA wis. “Where Is the Satellite – WIS – tracks in real-time the position of the selected satellite and predicts when and where the satellite will be visible from the user’s actual position. The application includes all European Space Agency Earth Observation satellites plus others bright enough to be seen with the naked eye such as the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod

ESA cryostat + ESA cryostat HD. “CryoSat is ESA’s (European Space Agency) first ice mission. The satellite has sophisticated technologies to determine variations in the thickness of polar sea ice to monitor changes in the vast ice sheets that overlie Greenland and Antarctica. This application is a gateway to knowing what the mission is about, how it works and what the elements of the space and ground segment that makes this mission unique are.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod (HD iPad only)

ESA Bulletin. “ESA Bulletin at your fingertips. The ESA Bulletin is the flagship magazine of the European Space Agency, published four times a year to report on ESA’s activities and achievements. In addition to a wide range of articles, every issue provides an overview of the status of ESA’s major space projects. It has been inspiring and informing the space-interested public since it was first issued in 1975.” – iPhone/iPad/iPod

So go ahead and add more ‘space science’ to your mobile device. We have.

An ISS CubeSat Laboratory – Your vote can help launch this idea to space

CASIS, the Center for the Advancement of Space in Science, is currently holding a contest on “Your Idea in Space: What Would You Send to the ISS?” HySpeed Computing submitted an entry to the contest for sending a user-configurable CubeSat Laboratory to the International Space Station. There are lots of other great ideas submitted to the contest and we encourage you to read through the various entries.

If you like our idea, then we’d appreciate your vote as well on any feedback on how to improve the concept. Voting is open from September 20 through October 4 and each voter can cast up to five votes. The contest is accessible here: http://www.iss-casis.org/contest/voting-public.html

See below for a summary of our entry:

CASIS ISS contest

We would send a user-configurable CubeSat laboratory to the ISS that would allow on-demand creation and deployment of customized nanosatellites to address opportunistic and time-critical Earth observation tasks. This laboratory would have scientific, societal and commercial benefits. Key components of this laboratory include:

  • A space-qualified 3D printer for on-demand manufacture of the CubeSat framework.
  • A collection of pre-assembled Arduino components configured for different Earth observation tasks.
  • Communication through standard ISS channels to allow for user-customization.
  • Launch achieved via Japanese Experiment Module using the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer.
  • Satellites de-orbited so as not to contribute to space debris.

Earth observation is pervasive throughout our society, with important roles in both government and private sectors, including utilities, natural resources, agriculture and consumer product markets. The demand for this data also continues to grow, with many companies now looking to apply big-data analytics to Earth observing data for use in business enterprise. While there are numerous government and commercially operated Earth observing satellites currently in orbit, sensors are not always available, not always positioned appropriately and not always affordable for particular events and applications.

CubeSats offer a relatively low-cost option for addressing specific Earth observing needs, but are still limited by traditional launch requirements for achieving orbit. As an alternative, however, the ISS represents a space-based platform for CubeSat deployment, and as of the 2012 installation of the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) now has the capability for launching small satellites into Earth orbit via an airlock and robotic arm.

Arduinos, which consist of open-source electronic hardware, and 3D printers, which can generate three-dimensional objects based on a digital model, are both user-configurable technologies that can be applied to a host of different design and manufacture applications. Additionally, configuration does not require hands-on modification but can instead be implemented remotely through software.

Integrating these different concepts converges to a space-based CubeSat laboratory, which uses Arduino components and 3D printing to manufacture CubeSats that are deployed into Earth orbit from the ISS.

In addition to providing scientific and commercial benefits, the CubeSat laboratory would offer unique opportunities for educational initiatives, both with respect to creating the laboratory itself and the subsequent design, deployment and application of different CubeSat missions. This would also be a valuable resource for the entire Earth observing community.

For more information on CASIS: http://www.iss-casis.org/

NASA Apps – Earth and space science at your fingertips

Do you crave information on remote sensing, satellite technology, exploration and other innovative space-related topics? Are you interested in learning more about specific NASA missions, or just want to browse through NASA’s many images and visualizations? We’ve put together a list of mobile Apps that should help satisfy your craving:


  • NASA Earth As Art. “This app celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere.” – iPad
  • NASA Technology Innovation. “Technology Innovation is a digital publication of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate which will feature the latest space technology innovators and project developments across the agency.” – iPad/online, updated quarterly
  • NASA App. “The NASA App showcases a huge collection of the latest NASA content, including images, videos on-demand, NASA Television, mission information, news & feature stories, latest tweets, ISS sighting opportunities, satellite tracking, Third Rock Radio and much more.” – iPhone/iPad/Android
  • NASA Science: A Journey of Discovery. “This NASA Science application brings you the latest information from NASA’s Science Missions, including the spacecraft, their instruments, the data, and what we are learning about the questions we seek to answer.” – iPad
  • NASA Visualization Explorer. “This is the NASA Visualization Explorer, the coolest way to get stories about advanced space-based research delivered right to your iPad. A direct connection to NASA’s extraordinary fleet of research spacecraft, this app presents cutting edge research stories in an engaging and exciting format.” – iPad
  • Earth-Now. “NASA’s Earth Now is an application that visualizes recent global climate data from Earth Science satellites, including surface air temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and water vapor as well as gravity and sea level variations. The resulting 3D model of the Earth may be rotated by a single finger stroke, and may also be zoomed in or out by pinching 2 fingers.” – iPhone/iPad/Android
  • Space Images. “NASA/JPL’s Space Images app offers a unique view of the sky via hundreds of images taken by spacecraft studying planets, stars, galaxies, weather on Earth and more. Save to your device as backgrounds or wallpaper and share them with friends on Facebook, Twitter and email as you scan through our extensive photo albums and rate your favorites.” – iPhone/iPad/Android
  • Spinoff 2012. “NASA Spinoff profiles the best examples of technology that have been transferred from NASA research and missions into commercial products. From life-saving satellite systems to hospital robots that care for patients and more, NASA technologies benefit society. There’s more space in your life than you think!” – iPad/online, published annually

To access a full list of NASA Apps: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/apps.html

What’s on your mobile device?

TED on the Brain – The power of algorithms and open innovation

By now most people are familiar with TED talks, and many have had the opportunity to attend a TED conference or one of the many independently organized TEDx community events. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s definitely worth your time… and your mind will thank you.

TED is a nonprofit organization whose philosophy is centered on “Ideas Worth Spreading.” With that focus in mind, TED conferences bring together an amazing variety of speakers, each thought leaders in their respective fields, and challenges them “to give the talk of their lives.”

In addition to the live events, the talks are all recorded and made available at ted.com. And since the talks are all relatively short in duration, it’s easy to spend hours browsing through the online archive viewing one exceptional speaker after another.

To give you a taste of what’s available, check out the following sampling of talks related to the power of algorithms and open innovation:

Raffaello D’Andrea: The astounding athletic power of quadcopters (16:08)

Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination (15:47)

Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovation (18:58)


The “White Stork” Makes a CubeSat Delivery – ISS receives four new micro-satellites


HTV-4 being docked with the ISS using Canadarm2 (courtesy: NASA)

Earlier this month on August 3, 2013 the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 (HTV-4) was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The HTV, nicknamed “Kounotori” (White Stork), is an unpiloted spacecraft used to resupply the International Space Station.

In addition to supplies and other research cargo, the recent HTV-4 mission included four new CubeSats:

  • Pico Dragon. This is a 1U CubeSat developed by the Vietnam National Satellite Center. Its mission is to acquire images of the Earth, collect space environment data, and test satellite communication systems.
  • Ardusat-1 and Ardusat-X. These are 1U CubeSats created by NanoSatisfi, with development partially funded through a crowdfunding campaign on KickStarter. The ArduSat satellites provide open-source Arduino platforms for users to control onboard instruments and perform their own space-based experiments.
  • TechEdSat-3. This is a 3U CubeSat collaboratively built by San Jose State University and the University of Idaho with guidance from NASA Ames Research Center. This satellite is being used to test exo-brake technology for passive de-orbiting of satellites and other payloads.

CubeSats offer a low-cost option for deploying and testing new space technologies and for encouraging research in space science. Given their small size – a 1U CubeSat is a 10cm cube – the satellites can be readily deployed as opportunistic payloads on larger missions. They can also be easily designed to burn up upon re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere, thus not contributing to the growing problem of space junk.

Using a procedure first tested last year, the CubeSats delivered by HTV-4 are first uploaded inside the ISS and later released from the Japanese Experiment Module via an airlock and robotic arm using the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer. This allows the CubeSats to be deployed directly from the ISS instead of using traditional launch vehicles, i.e., rockets.

As the deployment of micro-satellites becomes more and more cost-efficient and versatile, it’s no wonder we’re seeing an increasing prevalence of CubeSats. So think small and dream big.