Research Experiment Launched into Space!

A small sample of the UND-developed NDX-1 spacesuit fabric was launched on board the NG CRS-11 Cygnus Resupply Mission on its way to the International Space Station.  The launch took place at the Wallops Flight Facility in Greenbelt, Maryland. Wallops is operated by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA has selected five technologies for its Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE)-11 mission to test them aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and one of those samples was provided by the Department of Space Studies at UND. MISSE-11 will enable long-term exposure of materials to the inhospitable space environment.

The samples remain in space for at least one year, allowing researchers to make meaningful assessments about the long-term impact of factors such as temperature extremes and radiation on the performance of their innovations.

The MISSE program has been a successful part of ISS research since 2001, when its original flight hardware became the first payload to be installed on the outside of the space station.

The Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS) Experiment, whose Principal Investigator, Dr. Carlos Calle from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carries the NDX-1 fabric sample which includes an active dust mitigation technology. This particular sample was developed by Dr. Kavya Manyapu, Adjunct Professor, and Dr. Pablo de León, Professor, Department of Space Studies, UND.

Dr. Manyapu defended her doctoral thesis in 2017 on this topic. She commented “It’s really exciting to see samples based on my Ph.D research launching to Space station as part of the MISSE platform. The payload will provide critical data for furthering a novel technology to make sustainable human spaceflight exploration of the moon and mars a reality. The technology will help to keep astronauts and space habitats safe from dust contamination. I look forward to continuing our research as part of UND and Dr. de León’s efforts in going back to the moon and eventual footsteps on Mars”

The fabric sample uses a new screen-printing technology developed specifically for this occasion. Dr. Pablo de León says “due to the short time we had to test and fly this payload we reached to private industry, and found the company Novacentrix, who manufactures high quality conductive inks and printed electronics, and they were able to help us to print the screen we needed into the spacesuit fabric.”

Dr. Rudy Gosh, from Novacentrix, offered to test several conductive paints into the fabric and one of them was selected for the spaceflight.

“Since it will be exposed to space during one year, we needed to be sure it will not delaminate, so upon return, we can test it and see if their dust-repealing capabilities stay the same. This technology will be vital during lunar and Mars exploration.”

 

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