AFRL partners with NASA, academia, industry on spacecraft flight experiment > Air Force Materiel Command > Article Display

The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate in collaboration with the Georgia Tech Research Institute, or GTRI, NASA and DuPont de Nemours, Inc., has a brand-new spacecraft supplies experiment flying on the International Space Station.


A SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft delivered the experiment named 16 Materials International Space Station Experiment, or MISSE-16, to the ISS July 16, 2022. It consists of supplies by no means earlier than examined in area and was put in onto an ISS platform known as the Materials International Space Station Flight Facility throughout a latest extravehicular exercise, the place it’s going to stay amassing information for the following six months earlier than returning to earth in early 2023 for evaluation.


“AFRL and GTRI will then study the effects of space weather exposure on the collection of heritage and novel spacecraft materials,” stated Ryan Hoffmann, AFRL MISSE-16 mission supervisor. “NASA has been a driving force in helping to determine what materials should be flown, as well as conducting some of the preflight material characterization. DuPont supplied many of the material samples, along with providing an in-depth knowledge of material composition and space utility.”


The undertaking was conceived by AFRL, GTRI and NASA researchers, who submitted a proposal to the ISS U.S. National Laboratory and have been awarded the experiment. In progress for 2 years, the experiment has greater than 20 senior scientists at AFRL, GTRI and NASA and some summer time interns contributing to its improvement.


“A primary objective of AFRL is to use the real space weather exposure of the ISS to validate simulated space weather exposure of materials on the ground,” Hoffmann stated, who runs AFRL’s Spacecraft Charging and Instrument Calibration Lab that makes use of a number of superior, state-of-the artwork massive vacuum chambers to check supplies to be used in area.


Dr. Elena Plis, a senior analysis engineer on the Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory/Georgia Tech Research Institute, is the lead and first investigator for the MISSE-16 mission and directs the objectives of the multi-institutional analysis staff. 


“We will investigate selected materials which show promise for aerospace, avionics and spacecraft applications in low-Earth orbit, which is a particularly harsh environment for spacecraft materials,” Plis stated.


“MISSE-16 will leverage the GTRI’s expertise in several areas of high importance to space research,” Plis continued. “The data collected will aid in the development of technology to image spacecraft through the atmosphere using ground-based telescopes and will help to track hazardous space debris that is typically very dim and difficult to keep track of.”


In addition, Plis stated the undertaking will assist open the door to find out the composition of area objects like these current in a particles cloud. This contains improvement of algorithms for imaging by atmospheric turbulence and monitoring in low brightness and improvement of modeling instruments for figuring out supplies present process area weatherization.


“The data we will receive directly from the ISS has never been collected before, and there is an aspect of machine learning required to turn the raw data into a useable format,” Hoffmann stated. “In our AFRL lab, we perform imaging of the materials using a camera and illumination scheme identical to that installed on the ISS. These data serve as training datasets for the machine learning algorithms developed by GTRI’s team for analysis of the materials degradation under true space weather.”


AFRL anticipates a number of vital advantages for the U.S. Space Force ensuing from this undertaking may also be invaluable to the area trade and the area enterprise normally.


“This project will help to provide an understanding of how a variety of novel materials react to the harsh space environment,” Hoffmann stated. “If they are deemed suitable for flight, the properties of these materials will help to improve the reliability and sustainability on any space platform and mission that platform supports.”


Hoffmann defined for the primary time ever, MISSE-16 will present real-time information on how a cloth degrades within the area surroundings.


“These data will be used to design and validate ground-based testing methodologies so that new materials can be flown with higher confidence and reliability and a much lower cost,” he stated. “This will lead to a more agile space enterprise that is able to take advantage of state-of-the-art materials rather than the current model of flying only materials that have flown before.”


Dr. Heather Cowardin, Laboratory and In Situ Lead for the NASA Johnson Space Center Orbital Debris Program Office, is collaborating with AFRL on the MISSE-16 flight experiment.


“Characterization of spacecraft materials, both classic and modern, is key to supporting space flight, mitigating the growth of orbital debris, and supporting material identification for space situational awareness,” Cowardin stated. “Laboratory measurements present a direct alternative to evaluate optical parameters in a managed surroundings to raised confirm the fabric response in harsh environments to check with in situ measurements, resembling with MISSE.”


About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the first scientific analysis and improvement middle for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL performs an integral position in main the invention, improvement and integration of reasonably priced warfighting applied sciences for our air, area and our on-line world power. With a workforce of greater than 11,500 throughout 9 expertise areas and 40 different operations throughout the globe, AFRL supplies a various portfolio of science and expertise starting from elementary to superior analysis and expertise improvement. For extra data, go to:

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