DreamUp as PBC aims to lower barriers to student research in space

The company NanoRacks, which supports scientific experiments on the Int. Space Station and launches CubeSats from the station as well, has announced that it will spin off its DreamUp education program into a Public Benefit Corporation: Space Education and Research Reaches New Heights: Announcing DreamUp, PBC –

Today, DreamUp is excited to announce that NanoRacks and its parent company, XO Markets, are creating a new company dedicated to lowering the barriers to student and university research: DreamUp, PBC.

As such, we join the ranks of Ben & Jerry and Kickstarter, just two of the growing number of companies that have been incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation.

PBC’s are commercial organizations whose by-laws urge shareholders and management to do more than turn a profit: they also seek to undertake some public good in a series of defined mandates. Until now, in our society, companies must focus only on the bottom line. Benefit Corporations are different: they can and must do more for society.

For DreamUp, the goals are simple: we will strive to make space research a viable part of students and university researchers. We will seek to make crowdsourcing a far more efficient tool for space-based projects. And within a few short years we aim to have teachers and students from all fifty states and a dozen countries worldwide enjoy the benefits of real STEM experience via the unique environment of space.

Previously, DreamUp has stood as the educational arm of NanoRacks, the go-to company for commercial access to space. Explains Jeffrey Manber, the chairman of the board for XO Markets, “we realized the time has come to tap the expertise of a whole new set of dedicated professionals in order to leverage our existing foundation. We are proud of our educational partners and customers across the world that utilize DreamUp today. Now we are ready to take space-based education to a whole new level.”

DreamUp will continue to utilize the in-house experts to ensure DreamUp PBC continues to offer unprecedented opportunities for students, researchers, and innovators. To date, DreamUp and NanoRacks have launched over 200 unique educational payloads to the International Space Station.

Here is a video of a group of three students who will send an experiment to the ISS via DreamUp:

These plans also allow for DreamUp to focus further on crowdfunding efforts for space-based research. Crowdfunding has become an extremely popular method for funding research on the ground, as well as in-space research. Earlier this year, one of DreamUp’s teams experienced a successful crowdfunding campaign that will allow three high school sisters to achieve the dream of testing their plant growth chamber in microgravity. Using experiment.com as the fund-raising platform, Chicks in Space reached their monetary goal with help from the public, the space community, friends, family and the DreamUp team. Currently the Chicks are getting the hardware ready for a 2016 test on the International Space Station. 

UrtheCast providing Global Forest Watch with hi-def satellite images of the world’s forests

The Canadian company UrtheCast has high definition earth-observation cameras mounted on the exterior of the Int. Space Station and it has a set of earth-obs satellites.

Urthecast has announced that it will assist the monitoring of the health of forests globally by providing free access to its image archives to scientists and others via the Global Forest Watch organization: UrtheCast Releases UHD Images Of World’s Forests on Global Forest Watch

Monitoring the world’s forests requires looking at things both large and small. With forests covering a vast 30 percent of the Earth’s land surface, large-scale public satellite programs help scan forests rapidly at medium and coarse resolutions. But to really understand how a forest is changing, or identify the drivers of deforestation, you need ultra-high-resolution satellite images that show the finer details. Forest managers have traditionally lacked the latter — less than a decade ago, even a moderate-resolution image could have cost thousands of dollars, rendering this powerful resource too expensive for conservation efforts.


That all changed when NASA and USGS released their Landsat archives for free, and the game may be about to change again. Companies are now pioneering ways to also bring high-resolution images to scientists and the public at little or no cost to analyze them for critical information about forests around the world.

UrtheCast is the latest company to lend its immense Earth Observation capacity to the cause, in partnership with Global Forest Watch (GFW) — a dynamic online platform that allows anyone, anywhere with an internet connection to monitor the loss of trees around the world. Soon, Global Forest Watch will roll out a feature that allows users free access to UrtheCast images, ranging in resolution from 20m to as high as 70cm in resolution, all sortable by filter, maximum cloud cover percentage, and date range.

GFW users will also be able to subscribe to email updates and can be notified as new images for their areas of interest are acquired. Care about fires in Indonesia or the spread of illegal logging in Peru? You’ll be able to track these changes not only using GFW’s data sets and alert systems, but see them with your own eyes.

Today, many forest stakeholders rely on remote sensing technologies powered by satellite imagery to make better informed decisions around forest management and conservation. Thanks to companies like UrtheCast, access to high-quality images continues to increase, as does our ability to monitor global forest change and put information into the hands of more stakeholders around the world.

Perspectives from UrtheCast on Vimeo.

Space arts: Astrophotographer André van der Hoeven + “Project Juno” – the story of Helen Sharman

A couple of space arts items:

*  The Art of Space Photography — Vantage — Medium – An interview with astrophotographer André van der Hoeven about the field and his techniques. Includes many wonderful images. Here is a video compilation that he has made:

Project Juno – Arts Theatre – This “is a one woman show about Helen Sharman’s remarkable story of becoming the First Briton in Space”. The show will be performed by Rachael Halliwell at the Harrogate Theatre in Yorkshire, England on Dec.3-5.

Helen Sharman won a competition to travel to the Russian Mir space station in 1991.

Here is a short video interview with Sharman: