The 2,453rd Meeting of the Society

January 28, 2022 at 8:00 PM

Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club

The ISS National Laboratory

Developing a Robust National Economy in Space

Ramon (Ray) Lugo

Principal Investigator and Acting CEO, ISS National Laboratory
Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc.


About the Lecture

The International Space Station (ISS) orbits approximately 260 miles above Earth’s surface, traveling at 17,500 miles per hour.  Over the course of its 20 years in space astronauts from 19 different countries have lived and worked there.  They have performed more than 3,000 experiments that take advantage of the unique space environment in and around the ISS, conditions that enable researchers to evaluate phenomena in ways that are not possible on Earth.

In addition to its role as a NASA facility, the ISS is a US National Laboratory with responsibility for opening access to the ISS to US-based researchers and developing a robust market in low Earth orbit.  To date, the ISS National Lab has sponsored more than 500 investigations by outside institutions, including Fortune 500 companies, other well established technology companies, start-ups, academic institutions, non-profits and government agencies.  The ISS National Laboratory has enabled research sponsored by these outside institutions and investigators that cannot have been done anywhere else, and it is leading the way to broad participation in the developing space economy.

This lecture will discuss how the ISS National Lab works with institutions to carry out research and development projects in space, many of which address important challenges we face on Earth.  US funding for activities on the space station recently were extended by Congress through 2030.  The lecture will review specific opportunities that will be pursued in the next decade and ways that these endeavors will increase scientific knowledge and their promise for practical benefits.  Work on enhanced therapeutics, novel manufacturing methods, improvements in space medicine and accelerated engineering and utilization models for low Earth orbit, including the commercial space platforms now undergoing design and development will be discussed.

Selected Reading & Media References

Tissue Chips in Space

Advanced Materials in Space

Technology Development

About the Speaker

Ramon (Ray) Lugo is Principal Investigator and Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS), which manages the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory.  He is responsible for implementing strategic objectives that enable space-based research through the ISS National Lab to build a robust and sustainable market in low Earth orbit and realize its value to the nation.

Before joining CASIS, Ray was the Principal Investigator for the Arecibo Observatory and Director of the Florida Space Institute at the University of Central Florida.  Previously, he served as Director of the NASA Glenn Research Center, and before that he was for many years at NASA Kennedy Space Center where he worked as an engineer, project manager, and ultimately Deputy Director of the Launch Services Program.

Among other honors and awards, Ray has received three NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals, a NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and he was also selected for a NASA Presidential Rank Award.

Ray earned a BS in Engineering at the University of Central Florida, an MS at Florida Institute of Technology, and he is a graduate of the Harvard Program for Management Development.