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Astronauts spend nearly all of their time doing science experiments that take advantage of their environment, specifically microgravity, easy access to hard vacuum, radiation, etc. My question is, how do these experiments go from ideas in someone's head to in the hands of an actual astronaut?

Does NASA or any other space agency have a program for accepting science experiments? Somehow each of those experiments must've arrived on their list of to-dos?

Do government-owned space agencies have a monopoly on space research, or can "regular folks" have an opportunity to propose experiments and at least sometimes have them done?

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    $\begingroup$ +1 There are usually several agencies with astronauts on space stations, so no, they do not have any monopoly at all. Does your project need NASA? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 3, 2021 at 3:21
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, do government-owned space agencies have a monopoly on space research? Is there a way of submitting requests for research to be done? $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2021 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ I've made an edit to your post to incorporate some of your comment back into it. Please feel free to adjust/edit further. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 3, 2021 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say they spend nearly all their time on science, there's a lot of maintenance, upkeep and other tasks. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Aug 3, 2021 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ Government agencies have the monopoly on deciding whose experiments will be done. Lots and lots of private entities have their science done in space through contracts with these agencies. Additionally, it's not uncommon in academia to get a research grant funding your research in space - as long as you're doing it under auspice of your university. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Aug 3, 2021 at 13:11

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The ISS counts as a National Laboratory in the US. One way to get your experiment done on the space station is to respond to one of their solicitations of proposals. There is a list of previous solicitations of proposals here.

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