Results tagged “CASIS”

CASIS Names Bobby Block Director of Communications

"Today, Robert "Bobby" Block was named director of communications for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) - the non-profit entity selected in 2011 by NASA to maximize utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. In this position, Block will be responsible for promoting the CASIS and ISS National Laboratory brands internationally through targeted communications, marketing and public relations campaigns. He will also lead an aggressive effort to build lasting partnerships with industry and stakeholder media."

Keith's note: CASIS has finally done something right. Bobby Block ought to be able to explain to these folks that their public image is lacking in credibility and that their public image reflects the inner way of doing business, dealing withstakeholders, partners, NASA, etc. The easiest way for CASIS to get beyond this self-induced PR mess is to start to do what it is they are supposed to be doing, stop spinning their wheels on pointless pursuits, and effectively communicate withthe external world. The full utilization of the ISS is too precious a resource to be squandered because of food fights back on Earth.

CASIS Director Resigns - Accusations Start To Fly - Leadership Turmoil, earlier post

Resignation Letter from CASIS Executive Director Jeanne L. Becker

"As a result of undue and onerous political pressures exerted over the almost six months of existence of CASIS, business operations have been difficult in standing up this brand new organization. Unrealistic expectations have been levied collectively by Congressional staffers, by NASA (Mr. Uhran) and by ProOrbis. These pressures have placed unnecessary stress and hardship on CASIS, not only organizationally but also on management, forcing a defensive posture with constant focus on mitigation strategies to fend off political threats of the elimination of CASIS.

The fact is that ProOrbis was recruited and paid by NASA to write the ISS National Lab Reference Model, which became the basis for the NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice soliciting for a nonprofit organization to manage ISS National Lab. Space Florida contracted ProOrbis to write the CASIS proposal submitted in response to this Cooperative Agreement Notice. What remains difficult to rationalize is the fact that the interim board admittedly identified inurement and excess benefit issues even as the CASIS proposal was developed."

ProOrbis Statement re: CASIS Director Resignation

"As is a matter of public record, Dr. Becker was included in the CASIS proposal as its Executive Director. In her commitment letter submitted with the original proposal, she stated "I am supportive of the management concepts as presented in the CASIS proposal being submitted." However, since taking on this role, she has not engaged ProOrbis in the stand-up activities of CASIS as was contemplated. Issues of conflict of interest for all the principal parties were satisfactorily addressed in the Cooperative Agreement and provisions were put in place to mitigate any potential conflicts. Dr. Becker's concerns about a non-profit organization working with a private company were addressed by legal counsel, which determined that they would not in any way prevent CASIS from engaging ProOrbis or executing the proposal."

Jim Royston Named Interim Director of CASIS Dr. Jeanne Becker Steps Down From Leadership Role

"The Board received Dr. Becker's resignation last week and accepted it as a result of ongoing disputes in relation to the pace and direction of the implementation of CASIS' mission. The Board has now established an Executive Office of the Chairman within CASIS to drive the organization toward rapid development during this period."

Astrotech Corporation President Terminated, 16 July 2010

"Astrotech Corporation, a leading provider of commercial aerospace services and in the commercialization of space technologies, today announced a realignment of its corporate structure in order to optimize operational efficiencies. The Company's action follows an evaluation of each business and a review of strategic alternatives. Astrotech's corporate realignment includes the termination of James Royston, President of Astrotech Corporation."

Keith's note: I just received the CASIS statement around noon. It interesting how ProOrbis responded - directly to NASA Watch - on Sunday night - before CASIS itself even issued a statement. Also, despite issuing a statement to NASAWatch, ProOrbis has not posted anything on its website or issued statement via press release. This is a CASIS matter - why is ProOrbis taking the lead? Who is running the show here - CASIS or ProOrbis? That is what seems to be the core issue in this food fight.

Also note that interim CASIS Director Jim Royson was "terminated" as president of Astrotech in 2010. No reason is given for that termination - nor is mention made of the termination in his CASIS bio.

Jeanne Becker, Director, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Space News

"CASIS will ultimately act as a networking service between space scientists, payload integration specialists and, in some cases, investors. It will also be a financial analyst of sorts, evaluating candidate science projects for those with the potential to generate profitable spinoff products. The first CASIS solicitation for ISS-bound research is due toward the end of the fledgling group's first full year of operation, said Jeanne Becker, who in September became CASIS director."

- CASIS RFI Webinar Presentation and Q&A Session - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

- CASIS Still Doesn't Do Anything - Not That Anyone Notices (Update), earlier post

- The Long Confusing Path Toward Space Station Utilization, earlier post

International Space Station National Laboratory Education Project (ISS NLEP)

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education, NASA Higher Education Office in cooperation with the Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Office of Education, invites proposals to seven (7) areas within the ISS National Lab Education Project's (ISS NLEP) portfolio."

Keith's 9 Feb note: As has been the case for months, there is no mention of CASIS in this announcement, and CASIS makes no mention of this announcement on its website. Also, there is no mention at the NASA Education website, nothing at the ISS National Lab website, or at the NASA ISS website. No one at NASA Human Spaceflight seems to care about coordinating with each other or informing the public anymore.

Keith's 25 Feb note: The ISS National Lab website now has a link to ISS NLEP, but there is still no mention of ISS NLEP at CASIS - despite the fact that this is exactly what CASIS was created to do in the first place. Nor is there any mention at the NASA Education website. Meanwhile, CASIS has this notice on its website "CASIS RFI Webinar Presentation and Q&A Session" for an event to be held in 3 days. Oddly, neither NASA or CASIS has issued a press release, media advisory, Federal Register notice, etc. How are people supposed to know about events like this if there is zero advanced notice - unless you happen to stumble upon the CASIS website? And of course, there is no mention of this event anywhere at the NASA websites listed above - places where you'd expect such activities would be prominently mentioned. CASIS also claims that it will be part of this event in California yet the NASA press release makes no mention whatsoever of CASIS.

Bioreactors Drive Advances in Tissue Engineering, NASA Spinoffs 2011

"Johnson Space Center innovators created a rotating wall bioreactor that mimics microgravity conditions, allowing for healthier, more natural-forming cell cultures. Licensed to Synthecon Inc. of Houston, the technology now enables drug development and medical research into treatment for conditions such as diabetes and cancer."

New method makes culture of complex tissue possible in any lab, University of California - San Diego

"Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a new method for making scaffolds for culturing tissue in three-dimensional arrangements that mimic those in the body. This advance, published online in the journal Advanced Materials, allows the production of tissue culture scaffolds containing multiple structurally and chemically distinct layers using common laboratory reagents and materials. According to the UC San Diego researchers, this process is more affordable and widely feasible than previous methods that required expensive equipment and expertise."

- While NASA Flies In Circles Technology Advances Back on Earth, earlier post
- Another Alternative to ISS-Based Research (Update), earlier post
- Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post

Space researchers develop ultrasound technology that detects, treats kidney stones, NSBRI

"Just the mention of kidney stones can cause a person to cringe. They are often painful and sometimes difficult to remove, and 10 percent of the population will suffer from them. In space, the risk of developing kidney stones is exacerbated due to environmental conditions. The health risk is compounded by the fact that resource limitations and distance from Earth could restrict treatment options. Scientists with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) are developing an ultrasound technology that could overcome some medical care challenges associated with kidney stone treatment."

Keith's note: Wow, a real spinoff with potential applications to a vast number of people on Earth. But is there any mention at the OCT website? ISS National Lab? CASIS? Why is NASA so woefully incapable of promoting the actual benefits from its research that it crows about in Congressional testimony and PAO puff pieces?

Keith's update: What is really pathetic - and troubling - is the response posted by ISS contractor employee Justin Kugler in the comments section. Kugler and the people entrusted with the utilization of this expensive national asset seem to be oblivious to the responsibility that they have to explain to all "stakeholders" (including taxpayers) what these tens of billions of dollars have been spent on. When these people can't even get off their collective asses to make note of true and exciting spinoffs of great potential to people (such as this one) you really have to question whether NASA has the right people working on this project - and that starts at the top (Mark Uhran).

First Annual International Space Station R&D Conference

"Manuscripts are solicited on topics related to science and technology activities (past, present, planned and proposed) on the ISS, including but not limited to Biology and Biotechnology, Earth and Space Science, Human Research, Physical Sciences, Education Activities, and Technology and Exploration. The abstract deadline is January 15, 2012."

Keith's 6 Jan note: There is still no mention of this conference on the CASIS website even though CASIS is a co-sponsor. Abstracts are due in 10 days. Tick tock. Someone please wake CASIS up. This conference is precisely the sort of thing that it is chartered to do and yet it can't even post a simple link on its website? Not a good sign.

Magnetically-levitated Flies Offer Clues to Future of Life in Space

"Using powerful magnets to levitate fruit flies can provide vital clues to how biological organisms are affected by weightless conditions in space, researchers at The University of Nottingham say. The team of scientists has shown that simulating weightlessness in fruit flies here on earth with the use of magnets causes the flies to walk more quickly -- the same effect observed during similar experiments on the International Space Station."

While NASA Flies In Circles Technology Advances Back on Earth, earlier post

"Growing perfect crystals in space (on the Space Shuttle and Space Station) has been one of NASA's favorite promotional items in its mantra of promoting the use of the ISS as a "world class laboratory". The need for large crystals grown at great expense in space is quickly vanishing due to advances made on Earth."

Keith's 4 Jan note: To be certain, while people are now finding ways to examine phenomena on Earth that were once thought to only be possible - or practical - on the ISS, there is still a vast, untapped potential for the ISS. If only NASA would get out of its own way in this regard. Meanwhile CASIS, the entity created to maximize the utilization of U.S. assets on the ISS, has a web page that is inert and has not changed for months. They do not seem to have any staff (other than a director). If they do, then CASIS has no interest in telling anyone who these people are, what they do, or how to contact them.

Keith's 5 Jan update: I tweeted this today: "@ISS_NatLab -- when will CASIS start to *do* something?". The response? "@NASAWatch CASIS in process of building staff & preparing to take over research planning. You'll have to ask them yourself for more details." I then replied "@ISS_NatLab -- in other words you - #NASA - do not really know what CASIS is doing." and the response I got was "@NASAWatch If you want details on CASIS internal plans, you will need to ask them directly. Our focus is the transition, which is underway."

Keith's note: I was just at the NASA Education Stakeholders summit session on the ISS National Laboratory Education Project. Two things were apparent. First, little if any progress has been made on transferring responsibilities between NASA JSC and CASIS, the non-profit selected by NASA earlier this year to operate U.S. resources on the ISS. It was obvious that NASA has not done much - and since CASIS is still being formed, that it has not been able to do much either. Only several minutes were spent on this topic. No one from CASIS was on the agenda. Given that the agency has had a year to think about how they would transfer things (no matter who was selected), you'd think that they would have had a plan laid out the moment that CASIS came online. Guess not.

The second issue has to do with NASA JSC's International Space Station Live! website which continues to add new and interesting features. This site will eventually serve as a really nice way for people to understand what the ISS is doing - and when and why it is doing so. Alas, as cool as this site is, it is still not linked to by the rest of the agency. In addition, it duplicates features already in place on other websites, adding yet another tentacle to the already complex NASA human spaceflight web hydra.

If you go to NASA's ISS home page there is no mention of this website. Nor is there any mention at,, the ISS National Laboratory page, the HEOMD home page, or the NASA Office of Education (a sponsor).

I raised this issue back in October. When I asked Regina Blue from JSC about this today, she had no easy answer for why this site was not being promoted or linked to other NASA sites other than to say that they were "waiting for a website address". That is a rather odd excuse since the site has been publicly online since this summer at and is easily findable via Google. If the folks at JSC wanted a different website address than this then why did they put this online in a publicly accessible fashion in the first place?

Yet Another Stealth Website NASA Can't Coordinate, earlier post

Keith's update: A new National Laboratory webpage is now online. Meanwhile, CASIS still hasn't figured out how to do this - and that is one of the things they are supposed to be doing.

NASA Finalizes Cooperative Agreement With Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) To Manage the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, Space Florida

"NASA finalized a Cooperative Agreement with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), authorizing the organization to serve as the independent non-profit entity for management of the U.S. International Space Station National Laboratory (ISS NL) ... For more information, please visit the CASIS website, which will go live on September 15, 2011 at"

Keith's 21 Sep note: This press release was issued on 9 September. A website for CASIS was promised for 15 September - but there is still no active website for CASIS. NASA picked this organization to help manage the ISS National Laboratory and help disseminate information regarding the uses of the ISS - and they can't even get a simple website online? Not a promising sign.

Keith's 22 Sep update: The CASIS website is now online.

NASA Selects Nonprofit to Manage Space Station National Lab Research

"NASA has selected the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Inc. (CASIS) to develop and manage the U.S. portion of the International Space Station that will be operated as a national laboratory. At the conclusion of successful negotiations, the independent, nonprofit research management organization will help ensure the station's unique capabilities are available to the broadest possible cross-section of the U.S. scientific, technological and industrial communities."

Keith's note: NASA Assistant Associate Administrator for International Space Station Mark Uhran has been telling friends and co-workers that he will be leaving NASA on/by 1 October 2011. It will be interesting to see who replaces him. Betting odds are that it will be someone from JSC since they are not at all thrilled with this NGO concept to begin with - and carved significant portions of U.S. ISS research out from the purview of this new NGO. Moreover they need to make sure that KSC (or any other NASA center) does not exert undue influence.

Letter from Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in support for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, FL Lt . Governor Jennifer Carroll

"A team that includes such premier aerospace and scientific talents as: Boeing Company, Bionetics, Dynamac Corporation, and the other members of the CASIS proposal, represent the necessary skills and expertise to assure success. When backed by the unique approach and capabilities of Space Florida, and the unmatched history of commitment by the State of Florida to NASA achievement, I can confidently stand behind this proposal."



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