NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery marked the long-awaited Return to Flight, while also returning something else - two suitcases holding valuable materials for the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE).
These two suitcases, called Passive Experiment Containers (PECs), had been attached to the International Space Station (ISS) since STS-104 delivered them in 2001. During a spacewalk, or Extravehicular Activity (EVA), on Saturday, July 30, MISSEs 1 and 2 were retrieved from the ISS.
MISSE 5 will be attached for its stay in space tomorrow during an EVA, Wednesday, Aug. 3.
"It's always exciting to see the things that come back down from space," said William Kinard, MISSE chief scientist. "There are always surprises. The real value and benefit in these experiments is seeing what you didn't originally expect."
The only way to test how different materials will perform in space is to test them in that environment. Laboratories can simulate just one or two space environmental factors at a time. The research from MISSE will provide the insight needed to develop materials for future spacecraft and will also help researchers make materials and coatings that will last longer on Earth.
Once MISSEs 1 and 2 are brought back to Earth, they will be returned to NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., where they will be opened and studied in a clean room by the project's principal investigators. After this initial examination, the materials will be transferred to the NASA centers from which they originated.
The Langley Research Center manages the MISSE project. Other partners include NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland; Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Johnson Space Center, Houston; and Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Industry partners include the Boeing Company, Chicago; Hughes Aircraft Company, Torrance, Calif.; Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, Md.; Loral, Seabrook, Md.; Rockwell International, Richardson, Texas; and TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Department of Defense partners are Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.; Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Arlington, Va.; and Air Force Research Lab, Dayton, Ohio.
For detailed information about NASA's Return to Flight, visit:
For more information on the MISSE project, visit:
NASA TV will broadcast the MISSE 5 deployment on Flight Day 9 of Discovery's mission, Aug. 3. NASA TV is carried by MPEG-2 digital signal accessed via satellite AMC-6, at 72 degrees west longitude, transponder 17C, 4040 MHz, vertical polarization. It's available in Alaska and Hawaii in analog through Return to Flight on AMC-7, at 137 degrees west longitude, Transponder 18, at 4060 MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz.
For information about NASA TV on the Web, visit:
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