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  • Gaffney et al. Proc_3SSEA

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

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNConference contribution/Paper

  • Christopher Gaffney
  • Ramon Nartallo
  • Gianluca Neri
  • David Zolesi
  • Roberta Torregrossa
  • Colleen Deane
  • Matt Whiteman
  • Timothy Etheridge
  • Rebecca Ellwood
  • Michael Cooke
  • Nima Gharahdaghi
  • Mathew Piasecki
  • Bethan Phillips
  • Nathaniel Szewczyk
Publication date15/04/2020
Host publicationProceedings of the 3rd Symposium on Space Educational Activities
Place of PublicationLeicester
PublisherUniversity of Leicester
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9781912989096
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.