International Space Station 2021 calendar
A message from the Program Manager for the international Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest and most-visited spacecraft in the history of spaceflight. Last year we celebrated 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the orbiting laboratory that enabled over 3,000 investigations conducted by more than 4,000 researchers from more than 100 countries.
I believe that 2021 will be an exciting year with new challenges and impressive strides in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) commercialization, flight and demonstration of life support technologies that will benefit our future missions to Mars, and numerous critical investigations. The ISS’s continued success and advancements as a multi-dimensional platform is a tribute to the creativity, commitment and excellence of the entire ISS team.
Because of the incredible research conducted on this unique platform, our scientists and engineers have been able to learn more about creating extraterrestrial habitats for our explorers, how 3D printing can potentially be used to create spare parts, tools and materials on demand during journeys to the Moon and Mars; they have designed a space suit that can act as its own mobile life-support system, and much more.
In addition to supporting further exploration of the universe, research and technology developed on the ISS has produced many benefits to humanity that we see on Earth. These benefits include advances in development of pharmaceuticals, better disaster response capabilities, improved materials for manufacturing, progression in robotics, and even bioprinting human tissue.
This year is going to be an especially active year in space as we join with our commercial partners to increase transportation of people and cargo to the ISS, opening the microgravity lab to even more types of research. This increased investigation capability will also add to the ongoing research and technology testing that are key to enabling future human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
There’s a lot happening on the International Space Station, and the best way to keep up to date is to follow us on NASA.gov and on our social media accounts listed on the back of this calendar.
Thank you for your interest in our International Space Station, and I wish you a prosperous 2021.
International Space Station Program Manager
Building an Economy in Space
Roughly 250 miles above our planet, the International Space Station (ISS) is hurtling through space.
It’s been the only passenger vehicle traveling along a one-lane path for more than two decades. While it has expanded our world in terms of research, technology development and our understanding of the universe, it has also reminded us how limited access to space is. But as we look toward the future, we can see this one small destination among the stars growing into a galactic marketplace, booming with businesses and patrons—and it’s already beginning.
Building a robust economy in low-Earth orbit (LEO) has many advantages, including opportunities to improve lives on Earth. Research indicates removing the force of gravity from materials development processes might result in higher quality end products with fewer defects, making them more effective than if they were made on Earth.
The microgravity environment of space is particularly advantageous to the medical field, specifically to companies that are developing delicate products, such as artificial tissues, that have benefits for humanity. LambdaVision and Space Tango, two of several companies NASA has chosen to help propel industry into space, are working together to explore the benefits microgravity might have on the production of artificial retinas, including reduced materials, lower costs and accelerated production. If successful, these products can be transported back to Earth and used to restore vision for patients with degenerative eye diseases, such as advanced retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 55 years old.
NASA’s vision for the future is to see commercial space stations replace the ISS in low-Earth orbit. This will allow NASA to focus on deep-space exploration while continuing to have access to a LEO research platform. One of the first businesses moving forward with this mission is Axiom Space, a company that is aiming to develop a new commercial segment attached to the ISS. The company has announced plans to deliver new missions of private citizen astronauts to the ISS. Once the Axiom Segment is built out, it will eventually separate from the ISS and become its own destination.
In addition to manufacturing, new businesses in space could be beneficial for entertainment industries, potentially becoming a hub for film production or even microgravity sporting events. Marketing and sponsorship opportunities could also be available, as well as in-space assembly and servicing of large structures and satellites, and transportation of people and cargo to and from LEO for space tourism.
With the help of commercial partners, NASA will be able to move at the speed of industry, becoming a customer in this microgravity market. Part of NASA’s goal in aiding the establishment of a LEO economy is to be able to pass off some production and research responsibilities to the private sector, allowing the agency to purchase goods and services that will propel future missions into deep space. The road ahead will be challenging, but there is a new era of human exploration at the end.
International Space Station
Space Station Research and Technology Overview
Latest News About Station Research
Space Station Research Benefits for Humanity
Space Station Opportunities for Researchers
Space Station Experiments/Results
Space Station New Low-Earth Orbit Commercial Opportunities
Space Station for Students and Educators