Stephanie Murphy, founder of Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, will be presented with a leadership award at the annual Women in Aerospace Awards Dinner and Ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, later today. Alpha Space is the owner and operator of the Materials International Space Station Experiments (MISSE) Flight Facility, a commercially available materials science and component testing platform mounted on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS). Murphy is also the CEO of MEI Technologies, another ISS U.S. National Laboratory Implementation Partner.
Each year, Women in Aerospace—a professional organization dedicated to expanding women’s opportunities for leadership, education, and visibility in the aerospace community—recognizes women who have made remarkable contributions to the aerospace industry and to the advancement of women in the field. The organization is honoring Murphy for successful commercial development of a permanent space-testing platform, significantly expanding technology advancements through research in the harsh space environment.
The MISSE Flight Facility has been operating on the ISS since 2018 and will remain onboard for the remaining lifetime of the orbiting laboratory. MISSE enables accelerated durability and performance testing of samples such as materials, coatings, and components in the harsh conditions of space, which include exposure to extreme temperature cycling, radiation, atomic oxygen, ultrahigh vacuum, and orbital debris. MISSE allows investigators from commercial companies, academia, and government agencies to rapidly test materials and components with uses both in space and on Earth.
Prior to installation of the permanent MISSE Flight Facility, NASA led eight previous MISSE missions to the ISS over the past two decades. While the NASA-led MISSE missions required spacewalks for installation and retrieval of sample carriers, the MISSE Flight Facility houses carriers that can be robotically installed and retrieved using Canadarm2.
“MISSE fills a unique need that is almost impossible to replicate on the ground,” Murphy said. “We saw and understood the commercial potential of MISSE during several smaller scale flights of a previous NASA system.”
Alpha Space was recently named by the Houston Business Journal as one of the most innovative companies in Houston for its business model that includes the MISSE Flight Facility. Learn more about the MISSE Flight Facility in the Upward feature “Tough Enough for Space: Accelerating Materials Testing With a New Permanent Platform.”