SpaceX takes advantage of new Dragon research opportunity | Tech Crunch

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SpaceX will co-own valuable data, biological samples, and possibly patents and intellectual property related to human spaceflight. Terms and Conditions A new program invites research into crewed Dragon missions.

The company has begun quietly inviting proposals for “extraordinary science and research ideas that will enable life in space and on other planets” to launch into orbit using its Dragon spacecraft capsule. Specifically, SpaceX says it is looking for research studies and experiments focused on fitness, or solutions to increase “efficiency and effectiveness,” and human health during long-duration space missions.

Selected research study groups will have access to SpaceX's crewed Dragon missions, opening up a whole new use case for one of the company's flagship products.

The company discussed using Dragon as an orbital lab, similar to the International Space Station (ISS) a decade ago. Clearly, the business case was not understood until recently. But by platforming Orbit research, the company also gets access to valuable data in addition to any fees or other conditions offered to customers.

In the terms and conditions of the research collaboration, SpaceX states that SpaceX will have “joint” rights to all data and samples recorded during on-orbit research – regardless of whether this information is captured by SpaceX or not. itself or a research institute. The document further specifies that all “technology,” broadly defined to include software, inventions, proprietary information and more, will be jointly developed by SpaceX and the research organization.

The agreement also states that the technology can be jointly owned “without regard to the other parties,” legal language that means each party can commercialize or license the technology without any duty or obligation to the other party.

“Each party can grant a license to anyone else, (but) they can't grant an exclusive license to anyone else because they don't have exclusive rights,” explained Steven Wood, an attorney specializing in space law at Vela Wood. A recent interview. “They can commercialize independently and they have no duty or obligation to share revenue with any other party.”

There are clear exceptions: the document specifies that any technology developed using the researcher's own equipment (defined here as equipment used “for the measurement, recording and transmission of data”) is the researcher's own; However, even in this case, data and models are still clearly owned in common.

These are very standard terms for patents and inventions in this context, Wood explains, and shares that ownership of data and models also crosses boundaries. But it reveals that SpaceX has much more to gain from commercializing the Dragon than just revenue.

“Expanding the Light of Consciousness”

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has always been clear about the company's core mission: to make human life a multiplanet, starting with Mars. The company has made significant progress towards its mission with the most visible example being the massive Starship rocket designed with deep space travel in mind. SpaceX has conducted two orbital flight tests of the Starship and is set to conduct a third this month.

But getting to Mars is only half the problem. As NASA pointed out earlier this month — and SpaceX leadership no doubt understands — astronauts heading to the Red Planet face serious physical and psychological risks. As recently summarized by NASA a The white paper was released last week, The hazards of interplanetary travel include exposure to high levels of radiation, the physiological effects of different gravity environments, and long-term exposure to isolation and confined environments.

NASA has spent years studying the effects of microgravity on the human body. The agency clarified that the risks are very different for astronauts who stay on the ISS for six months or a year (which might not be so bad) and those who embark on a multi-year roundtrip to Mars.

Given SpaceX's ambitions, the company wants to stage more research into solutions that can mitigate these risks — and better set up their own mission to Mars for success.

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