Each NSCORT was organized to conduct focused ground-based investigations in specific research areas of importance to the space life sciences, to provide meaningful research and training to graduate students and postdocs, to interact with K-12 students to attract increased numbers of young men and women to the fields of space science and engineering, and to enhance the transfer of NASA-funded technology to the private sector.
Beginning with three NSCORTs funded in 1990, the program was expanded to seven. The NSCORT program directly supported only ground-based research and analysis, but encouraged NSCORT investigators to seek funding from other NASA sources for flight-based research in response to formal solicitations.
The essential criteria for selection of an NSCORT included: (1) demonstrated understanding of the complexity (depth and breadth) of specific problems associated with space life sciences, (2) development of effective research and educational strategies to investigate and solve the problems which require large-scale ($1M/yr) and stable funding, and the multidisciplinary resources associated with a comprehensive research university, aerospace contractor or research institute, and (3) an approach that enhances training opportunities for students and the transfer of information among research scientists and engineers and, where possible, transfers advanced technologies to the private sector. A major emphasis within the NSCORT program was to effectively transfer to the private sector the knowledge gained and the technology developed in conjunction with NSCORT's activities.
Although biomedical investigations are not uniquely the province of any single government agency, those in space environmental health, and gravitational, cellular and developmental biology were primarily NASA's responsibility. These topics offered fascinating research opportunities that attracted researchers from many disciplines and organizations. Through the NSCORTs, NASA space life sciences were effectively enlarging the pool of talented individuals investigating these and similar biological questions and facilitating the investigation of problems in space biology and across the entire fields of biology and medicine.