Houston Methodist Institute, in collaboration with Automobili Laomborghini, launched an International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory investigation on Northrop Grumman’s 12th commercial resupply mission earlier this week. The project seeks to leverage the harsh space environment to test the performance of five proprietary carbon fiber materials, including forged and 3D-printed carbon fiber composites, developed by Lamborghini for aerospace applications. The research team will assess the ability of the materials to withstand exposure to temperature fluctuations, radiation, and atomic oxygen. The project will utilize the new Craig Technologies CraigX Flight Test Platform, which also launched on this mission and will be installed on the exterior of the space station as an additional platform to test samples in the extreme environment of space.
Results from this project could help identify new resilient composite materials for made-in-space applications. Additionally, successful validation of 3D-printed carbon fiber composites could significantly impact carbon fiber manufacturing, as 3D printing could replacing lengthy and expensive traditional manufacturing methods. Furthermore, Houston Methodist Research Institute seeks to use knowledge gained from this investigation to enhance technologies for implantable drug delivery devices for patients on Earth.