Frank Morring has the cover story in this week's Aviation Week & Space Technology: ISS Utilization Advancing After Stumbles.
That kind of close work with an astronaut in orbit is a dream come true for scientists who want to see what happens when the gravity factor is removed, and for many experiments there is no other way to remove it. Drop towers and parabolic aircraft flights just do not offer enough time in microgravity, and experiment lockers on the space shuttle did not provide the continuity for the long-term laboratory work many experiments require.
The space station can solve that problem, and scientists, engineers and managers are starting to realize just what that might mean in terms of discoveries, applications and return on investment. After 10 years and at least $100 billion, NASA and its international partners are beginning to move beyond the transition from station assembly to station utilization and starting to do real work in space.
For those of you who subscribe to AWST, there is also an interactive presentation of space station research facilities viewable on the Zinio iPad version (included in every subscription) and online here.