Each year, the International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development (R&D) Conference, held in coordination with the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, NASA, and the American Astronautical Society, highlights individuals who have pushed the boundaries of space-based research through the presentation of research awards. This week, we are spotlighting awardees in the category of “compelling results.” Today’s spotlight is on Dr. Dmitry Starodubov of FOMS Inc., for compelling results in commercialization and nongovernment utilization.
FOMS Inc. developed and validated the Space Facility for Orbital Remote Manufacturing (SpaceFORM), a platform onboard the ISS National Laboratory for volume production of high-quality optical fibers, such as ZBLAN, in microgravity. ZBLAN is a type of fluoride-based optical fiber glass that can potentially perform up to 100 times more efficiently than traditional silica-based fibers. However, on Earth, gravity-driven forces lead to the formation of impurities in the fibers during production, significantly hindering performance. In microgravity, ZBLAN fibers can be produced with significantly fewer imperfections, resulting in higher-quality fibers that are extremely valuable back on the ground. Such fibers could improve the efficiency and cost of communications systems, avoiding the need for expensive repeaters to enhance transmission signals across long distances for transoceanic communications. FOMS Inc. was featured in an article in The Economist discussing the advantages of producing ZBLAN optical fibers on the ISS.
Learn more in these related resources:
- Exotic Glass Fibers From Space: The Race to Manufacture ZBLAN
- Taking ZBLAN Optical Fiber Production to Space
You can also learn more about the groundbreaking research taking place on our nation's only orbiting laboratory in Upward, the official magazine of the ISS National Laboratory! Visit Upward.ISSNationalLab.org to view the latest issue.