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Benefits for Humanity

ISS Benefits for Humanity

International Space Station Benefits for Humanity

Printable version [PDF file: 8.61MB]

Executive Summary

The third edition of the International Space Station Benefits for Humanity is a compilation of benefits being realized from International Space Station (ISS) activities in the areas of human health, Earth observations and disaster response, innovative technology, global education, and economic development of space. This revision also includes new assessments of economic value and scientific value in more detail than the second edition. The third edition contains updated statistics on the impacts of the benefits as well as new benefits that have developed since the previous publication. International Space Station Benefits for Humanity is a product of the ISS Program Science Forum (PSF), which consists of senior science representatives across the ISS international partnership.

With respect to economic valuation (EV), the journey from fundamental research and development to full commercialization can be long, often taking decades for a useful product or application of new knowledge to evolve and positively influence society. As this process unfolds, some products and services derived from space station activities are already entering the marketplace and benefiting lives on Earth. Using research conducted by Navigant Consulting, Inc., the EV section examines some of the early economic returns on the research accomplishments enabled by the orbiting laboratory. It also touches upon the role the space station has played in nurturing the growing space economy and the increasing interest in space by the private sector.

With respect to scientific valuation (SV), the unique microgravity environment and the international and multidisciplinary nature of the research on the ISS offers a significant challenge when analyzing the scientific value of the orbiting laboratory. The ISS Program Science Office has used many different methods over the years to describe the knowledge impacts of ISS research activities. Results publications are continuously updated and posted at As of May 2018, the ISS Program identified more than 2,100 publications since 1998, with sources in journals, conferences, and gray literature. After years of evaluating ISS scientific results in many different ways to determine its impact on the world, one pattern remains clear: space station research has a large global and interdisciplinary impact on scientific advancement. This edition’s SV section illustrates that impact.

Finally, this book summarizes the accomplishments of research on the space station that have had and will continue to have a positive effect on the quality of life on Earth. Through advancing the state of scientific knowledge of our planet, improving our health, developing advanced technologies, and providing a space platform that inspires and educates the science and technology leaders of tomorrow, these benefits represent the legacy of the ISS as its research strengthens economies and enhances the quality of life here on Earth for all people.

Program Science Forum

This book was developed collaboratively by the members of the International Space Station (ISS) Program Science Forum (PSF), which includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS (ROSCOSMOS), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

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