First experiments from NASA Commercial Space Centers get started on International Space Station

Three new commercial experiments are getting started on the International Space Station, marking a major milestone for NASA's Commercial Space Centers - 17 centers across the United States that help industry conduct space experiments.

The experiments were launched into orbit on April 19 on the Space Shuttle Endeavor on the STS-100 mission, Space Station Flight 6A. The Space Station Expedition Two crew are setting up the three commercial payloads and beginning experiments. These experiments will remain on board the Station until the end of Expedition Two, at the end of July, when the Space Shuttle Discovery will return them to Earth.

The three experiments slated for Space Station Expedition Two explore areas of the fast-growing fields of biotechnology and agriculture. One experiment is growing plants aboard the Space Station. Another examines why antibiotic production by microbes is enhanced in microgravity. A third is testing a new piece of equipment for crystallizing more than 1,000 biological samples.

NASA's commercial partners have been busy preparing for the flight. During the mission, some of them will work in new remote control centers set up with NASA's help. From these ground control centers, students, teachers and industry partners will be able to communicate with the crew and send commands to their experiments on the Space Station -- 233 miles above Earth. Investigators at these telescience centers can talk with the crew and send experiment commands through NASA's Payload Operations Center at the Marshall Center.

"Industry investment in space remains high," said Mark Nall, manager of NASA's Space Product Development Program at the Marshall Center. "We assist companies developing experiments and help them explore how space research can contribute to the growth of their businesses."

Industry funds the research, pays for a portion of launch costs, and brings resulting products or services to market. Because a company pays for the

Contact: Steve Roy
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center

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