Rhodium SPARC Challenge™: Space Programs Advancing Research and Commercialization (SPARC) to Expand Space Biotech

O. Gámez Holzhaus
Rhodium Scientific,
United States

Keywords: space, manufacturing


Rhodium Scientific, the first commercial space biotech company, founded in 2014, is a woman-Hispanic-American-owned small business. As the ISS National Laboratory’s premier bioscience-focused Commercial Services Provider and Implementation Partner, Rhodium has successfully led over 20 high-throughput spaceflight missions (including eight for the U.S. Department of Defense). The Rhodium team collaborates with academia, industry, and government to develop, translate, and facilitate space-based R&D testing efforts. Rhodium’s internal programs focus on the biomanufacturing, drug discovery, regenerative medicine, and technology development for Earth and space-based applications. To expand microgravity R&D efforts to new markets at the speed of business, Rhodium has established multiple challenge series to enable spaceflight opportunities for first-time users of the International Space Station (ISS). The Rhodium SPARC Challenge™ propels science, engineering, and technology development to the forefront of space by providing expert bioscience to space-science translation, rapid ISS access, proven space flight hardware, and in-orbit operations. The Rhodium SPARC Challenge™, including launch and sample return from space, is completed within approximately one year and provides groups the chance to establish an annual launch event capable of capitalizing on efforts from the previous year. Rhodium SPARC Challenge™ themes are selected by funders and stakeholders and can be adjusted from year to year. To date, Rhodium has conducted two Challenges in Australia, one in Puerto Rico, and one in the United States with new locations to be announced during the 2024 TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C.. During the presentation, the newest challenge theme and stakeholders will be introduced with information provided to enable teams to apply for a space-based mission.