The first of the work stands custom-built for science experiments operating on the International Space Station marked its 100,000th hour of operation this month. EXPRESS Rack 1, as the device is known, is housed inside the U.S.-built Destiny laboratory of the space station. Before installation on the station, the design was tried out during space shuttle missions. The rack offers electricity, network connections and access to the projects by station crew members. It was revolutionary for NASA because it offered a standardized platform that could be put in place and experiments could be plugged in and out of it during the life of the station. That means research can span several specialties on the station from medicine to computer chips and manufacturing of lighter metals.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program spacecraft will be capable of carrying payloads to the station along with crew as part of the agency’s work to effectively double the amount of research conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.