What goes up must come down. That's exactly what the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) team will be reminding themselves tomorrow when the third MISSE suitcase to hang out in space is retrieved from the International Space Station (ISS).
On Friday, Sept. 15, Atlantis Astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Joe Tanner will don their spacesuits for the third spacewalk during the STS-115 mission. One of their duties during the six and one-half-hour extravehicular activity (EVA) will be to retrieve MISSE 5 from its location on the ISS. Tanner, who is a veteran spacewalker, will handle this task.
The suitcase, called a Passive Experiment Container (PEC), is filled with a variety of materials and experiments and was attached to the ISS in July 2005 during the STS-114 mission.
The only way to determine 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.
MISSE 5 was the third in this series of experiments to catch a ride to the ISS aboard the shuttle to expose materials to the elements of space. The primary experiments on MISSE 5 were built by the Naval Research Laboratory, in Washington, D.C., to test advanced solar cells. MISSE 5 also includes a transmitter provided by the NRL so the performance of its test specimens was downlinked to Earth throughout its one-year stay in space. When the MISSE 5 transmitter was not in use, it was used by amateur radio operators as a relay station.
NASA's Langley Research Center, in Hampton, Va., supplied approximately 200 specimens of advanced materials from many partnering researchers to MISSE 5.
After hitching a ride home aboard Atlantis, MISSE 5 will travel to the NRL, where the solar cells will be analyzed. Its material samples will be removed from the PEC and will then be sent to their original homes around the country for research and analysis. The specimens will be tested to see if they still have the unique properties needed to complete space missions.
The MISSE Project is funded jointly by NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD). The Langley Research Center manages the MISSE project. Other NASA 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.
DoD partners are Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.; Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Arlington, Va.; and Air Force Research Lab, Dayton, Ohio.
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.
Friday's spacewalk and MISSE 5 retrieval will be available on NASA TV. NASA TV's Public, Education and Media channels are available on an MPEG-2 digital C-band signal accessed via satellite AMC-6, at 72 degrees west longitude, transponder 17C, 4040 MHz, vertical polarization. In Alaska and Hawaii, they're on AMC-7 at 137 degrees west longitude, transponder 18C, at 4060 MHz, horizontal polarization. For NASA TV information and access to the Public Channel, visit:
For more information on the MISSE project, visit:
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