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October 8th, 2007
A swaggering Texas investor with a famous name wants Big Pharma to pick up the tab for the International Space Station when NASA eases off.
Thomas Pickens III thinks the pharmaceutical industry and the space station need each other.
Drug discovery is an arduous and extremely expensive project. But in space, molecules do miraculous things. Disease-causing proteins crystallize so well -- growing larger and clearer -- that finding a drug to stop the protein's damaging activities could happen months, if not years, faster.
Scientists have known for decades that some science works better in space -- but it hasn't been easy to get experiments up there. Now, with NASA planning to reduce its $2.6 billion annual investment beginning in 2015, the agency is throwing the space station open for private enterprise. And the Texas financial scion and multimillionaire is ready to transform space science with an injection of capitalism.
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