The platform is scheduled to be inserted permanently on board the International Space Station’s U.S. National Laboratory. The platform is for me — and for all of us — a work of elegant art. It represents the best of engineering principals: hardware that is functional and efficient. The platform will allow up to 16 experiments using the CubeSat form factor, a design and shape known to university and researchers world wide. We call them CubeLabs — named by Kris Kimel of Kentucky Space, our major partner.
Not that it was simple to develop this platform. It took the experience of our Houston team, the enthusiasm of students in Kentucky Space and the creativity of everyone involved. What is simple is the premise: that through use of standardized hardware, the cost of space station utilization will be dramatically lowered.
Our idea is already working, we have signed five commercial customers from the Valley Christian High School and Quest Institute to a new pharmaceutical crystal growth effort. That is really exciting for all of us.
But now comes the countdown — I’m heading down this weekend for the launch and to see old friends and begin my own new journey, to promote and market the commercial utilization of our section of the U.S. Space Station National Laboratory. I'm glad that Jim Lumpp from the University of Kentucky will be there. NanRack’s Mike Johnson is staying in Houston because this veteran of so many launches and space engineering projects is just too blasé to be at the Cape! Mike says he would have been there but it's Easter.
Countdowns are nervous - whether cargo ships or manned. This one more so for all of us at NanoRacks and Kentucky Space, but the mission of STS-131 is one heck of a way to launch a new business!