First External Experiment on ISS to Be Attached During
MISSE Exposes Materials to Harsh Space Environment
The only way to test how materials will perform in space is to
test them in space. Laboratories can only simulate one or two space
environmental factors at a time.
When Shuttle Mission STS-105 lifted off from the Kennedy Space
Center on August 10, it carried the MISSE payload. The
Materials International Space Station
Experiment consists of two "suitcases" full of materials
that will undergo a one-year exposure test in space. The cases,
called Passive Experiment Containers (PECs), will be clamped to the
exterior of the International Space Station by astronauts Daniel T.
Barry and Patrick G. Forrester during a spacewalk planned midway
into the scheduled 11-day mission.
MISSE deployment during the missions first spacewalk is
scheduled for Thursday, August 16. The MSSE installation should
take place at approximately 3:00 EDT.
NASA Langley Research Centers Newsroom will be open
from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT with live images of the EVA. A MISSE
principal investigator will be available for interviews. Look for a
Public Affairs Office representative in the NASA front gate parking
lot on Commander Shepard Blvd. to receive an entry badge.
Space is an extremely hazardous vacuum filled with lethal
radiation, storms of micrometeoroids, extreme variations of
temperature, and all manner of man-made debris. Any one or a
combination of these can damage or even destroy unshielded
satellites and other spacecraft.
Approximately 1,500 samples will be tested during the year-long
project. The samples include ultra-light membranes, composites,
ceramics, polymers, coatings and radiation shielding. In addition,
components such as switches, solar cells, sensors, and mirrors will
be evaluated for durability and survivability. Seeds, plant
specimens and bacteria, furnished by students at the Wright
Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, are also being flown in
A similar experiment, the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF,
spent 69 months in low-Earth orbit before being retrieved in 1990.
Researchers learned much from that experiment and began to develop
new materials that could withstand the hostile space
Another materials experiment flew on the Mir space station in
1996-97 as part of the Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP).
The current project will test materials developed as a result of
the LDEF and MEEP programs.
After the exposure time of one-year, Mission Specialists will
seal the Passive Experiment Containers, remove them from the Space
Station and bring them home on the Shuttle for examination and
NASAs Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, leads
the MISSE project and is working closely with other NASA Centers,
the Department of Defense, and the Boeing Corporation.
For more information on MISSE, please check the Internet at: http://misse1.larc.nasa.gov
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