NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III (NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III) - 05.23.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III tests the space-readiness of an advanced shape metal alloy that can open and close in response to changes in light and temperature. As part of the Vitae Project, which seeks to install a dynamic, ‘blooming’ sculpture on the lunar surface, NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III deploys an automated “cocoon” or flap system aboard the International Space Station. Once activated, the cocoon unfolds in response to temperature changes and simulates the sculpture’s opening and closing on the lunar surface in response to sunlight.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Shaun Whitehead, CEng, FIMechE, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks-Module-40

Principal Investigator(s)
Shaun Whitehead, CEng, FIMechE, Scoutek Ltd, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, United Kingdom

Thomas Sinn, M.Sc., Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom

NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States
Scoutek Ltd, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
Nimesis Technology, Mécleuves, France

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - April 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III is launched in a standard 1.5 U (10 cm by 10 cm by 15 cm) NanoRacks Module and aisle deployed.
  • Shape memory alloys (e.g. Nitinol) have been suggested for space applications, such as deployable antennae, rover wheels etc., but very little material has been flight qualified.
  • This experiment qualifies the deployable design in certain aspects, including performance in microgravity.
  • As the material can be created in practically any shape, it has been made to be aesthetically appealing as well as scientifically valuable.
  • The research increases the understanding of the behavior of the material and similar “wrapping fold” deployable structures, which enables it to be used for new space and terrestrial applications. Additionally, the extraordinary nature of the material and design offers significant outreach and educational possibilities.

The shape memory alloy used in NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III is a deployable material to be tested for suitability in space applications while also having potential aesthetic value for outreach activities. There has been limited testing of such materials in space thus this investigation is expected to shed light on the behavior of Nitinol and Mylar in microgravity under nominal International Space Station (ISS) temperatures.

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Space Applications
NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III demonstrates the space-readiness of advanced shape memory materials that can operate on the lunar surface, Mars or beyond. Structures that open and close in response to temperature and sunlight can be used in communications, power systems and other applications. The folding structure can also improve space efficiency in vehicles used for long term space travel.

Earth Applications
Like the Olympic Flame, Voyager’s ‘Golden Record’ or the astronomic symbols embedded within the Hoover Dam, major human endeavors require symbols that document achievements and convey the message across time and space that humans are innovative, symbolic thinkers. Symbols like the Vitae Project inspire human support for space exploration and communicate the importance of space exploration using the symbolic language of art. NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III showcases advanced materials and uses them to generate support for space exploration.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
Deployment begins at a temperature of approximately 30°C so should normally be arranged in an environment that is at approximately 20-25°C (i.e. nominal ISS internal temperature). Remove the lid of the NanoRacks module. The sculpture is attached to the lid. The switch is turned on. The sculpture gets warm but remains comfortable to touch. It should be clear when the sculpture has been deployed. This takes less than 2 minutes. Once the sculpture has been deployed, or after 2 minutes (whichever is sooner), turn off the switch. The sculpture becomes pliable again once fully cooled to around 22°C, and can then be neatly rearranged for photographs if necessary. The sculpture has imagery taken in the cupola for historic evidence. The sculpture is placed back into the NanoRacks module and disposed of.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Vitae Project

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Side view of NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III stowed shape memory sculpture. Image courtesy of Scoutek Ltd./Artwork by Anilore Banon.

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Top view of NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III stowed shape memory sculpture. Image courtesy of Scoutek Ltd./Artwork by Anilore Banon.

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NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III deployed shape memory sculpture. Image courtesy of Scoutek Ltd. Artwork by Anilore Banon.

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General concept of wrapping fold for NanoRacks-Vitae Project Vi-III. Image courtesy of Scoutek Ltd.

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