Last week, NASA highlighted a podcast on a powerful platform for materials research and development in space that is mounted on the exterior of the International Space Station. The harsh environment of space includes exposure to extreme heat and cold cycling, ultrahigh vacuum, atomic oxygen, high-energy radiation, and debris impact. Knowing how materials and technology will perform in these conditions is necessary for future mission success. In the same way, materials used in space must perform as expected. Testing the durability and performance of specific technology and materials in space is happening right now on Alpha Space’s Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) Flight Facility.
Located outside the space station, the MISSE Flight Facility enables the testing of all kinds of technologies and materials—from paints and coatings to 3D printed materials, sensors, and electronics. The need to test technology intended for use in space is obvious, but there are also benefits to testing products we use here on Earth. Research done using the MISSE Flight Facility informs the development of future technology destined for space missions as well as Earth-based applications. For example, MISSE testing could enhance products such as solar cells that can be used as power sources in remote locations on Earth.
The MISSE Flight Facility is owned and operated by Alpha Space, a Texas-based woman- and minority-owned company. In an episode of NASA Johnson Space Center’s “Houston We Have a Podcast” recorded earlier this year, Alpha Space Program Manager Wesley Gordon spoke about the MISSE Flight Facility and how it’s advancing technology and materials. Listen to the podcast on NASA’s website.