Materials Science Research Rack-1 (MSRR-1) - 04.25.18

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Materials Science Research Rack-1 (MSRR-1) will be used for basic materials research in the microgravity environment of the ISS. MSRR-1 can accommodate and support diverse Experiment Modules (EMs). In this way many material types, such as metals, alloys, polymers, semiconductors, ceramics, crystals, and glasses, can be studied to discover new applications for existing materials and new or improved materials.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Jimmie Johnson, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: MSRR-1

Facility Manager(s)
Jimmie Johnson, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Information Pending

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2009 - September 2012; March 2013 - September 2015; September 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending


  • Onboard
  • ^ back to top

    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • The MSRR-1 will provide a powerful, multi-user materials science laboratory in the microgravity environment.

    • Materials science research (the applied study of the properties of matter and substances) benefits from the microgravity environment, where the researcher can better isolate chemical and thermal properties of materials from the effects of gravity. This leads to improved crystal growth, longer polymer chains, and purer alloys.

    • MSRR-1 will enable this research by providing hardware to control the thermal, environmental, and vacuum conditions of experiments, monitor experiments with video, and supply power and data handling for specific experiment instrumentation.

    • The initial configuration of MSSR-1 will accommodate the ESA Materials Science Laboratory (MSL). MSL features a number of exchangeable module inserts.
    Utilizing the MSRR-1 on ISS, materials scientists can exploit the microgravity environment, where they can isolate chemical and thermal properties of materials free from the effects of gravity. The MSRR-1 will facilitate this research by providing instrumentation and thermal chambers for mixing materials, growing crystals, and quenching/solidifying metals or alloys.

    The first experiment module planned for MSRR-1 is the Materials Science Laboratory (MSL) developed by European Space Agency (ESA). MSL occupies nearly the entire right side of MSRR-1 The MSL is designed to provide controlled, materials processing conditions and advanced diagnostics, including: temperature stability and precision; stability and precision of furnace translation; measurement of Seebeck voltage and sample resistance; determination of the solid/liquid interface position by ultrasound pulses; rotating magnetic field to initiate a controlled laminar flow inside liquid semiconductor samples; activation of a shear cell and video interface for sample ampoule containment assembly. In addition, MSL will feature a number of on-orbit, replaceable, module inserts developed by ESA. The Low Gradient Furnace (LGF) and Solidification and Quenching Furnace (SQF) were developed by ESA. Lastly, MSL will include a Sample Ampoule Cartridge Assembly (SACA), which contains the sample in a sealed environment, provides monitoring of temperature and cartridge integrity, and serves as the mechanical means for the crew to insert the sample into the module insert.

    MSRR-1 is integrated into a single International Standard Payload Rack (ISPR), whose structure measures 203 cm in height, 105 cm in width, and 96.5 cm in width at its deepest point, following the contoured shape of the U.S. Destiny Laboratory. The primary experiment compartments and instrumentation of MSRR-1 are organized into on-orbit replaceable experiment modules (EMs). In addition, it is outfitted with support equipment, including a master controller (MC), a video box, a solid state power control module (SSPCM), thermal and environmental control system (TECS), and vacuum access system (VAS). It also utilizes an Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) to minimize vibrations to the research within the MSRR-1. MSRR-1 will be launched inside a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) currently planned for flight in August 2008. After the orbiter docks and the MPLM is berthed to the ISS, MSRR-1 will be translated by the crew from the MPLM to its rack location in the Destiny Laboratory. The crew then connects all required ISS resources, and once the solid state power control module (SSPCM) receives power, the master controller initiates an automatic startup of rack systems.

    MSRR-1 is a highly-automated facility. The requirement to allow a wide variety of experiments, however, requires the crew to manually install exchangeable module or furnace inserts. Once an insert is in place and the systems are tested, the crew is also required to insert the experiment sample, using the sample ampoule cartridge assembly. Thereafter, the experiment sequence can be run by automatic command, or by sending commands through the master controller and/or a laptop. Thus, the capability exists to do telescience (science conducted via telemetry command from the ground) from distributed user home bases set up for scientists to monitor and conduct their investigations.

    The crew must interact with the facility during maintenance operations. A number of components are designated as On-orbit Replaceable Units (ORUs), which have a minimum lifetime but are designed to be removed and replaced. Some of the ORU components on MSRR-1 include the SSPCM, master controller, VAS motorized vacuum valve assembly, and the TECS shelf. Finally, the crew is required for removal of samples and transfer to stowage locations or to the spacecraft that will return the samples to Earth, or to install new module inserts or experiment-specific electronics.

    ^ back to top


    Facility Operations

    • MSRR-1 will be launched inside a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) and subsequently transferred to the U.S. Destiny Laboratory aboard ISS.

    • MSRR-1 is a highly automated and ground-controllable facility. The crew is required mainly to perform facility commissioning, sample insertion, and periodic maintenance to replace On-orbit Replaceable Units (ORUs).

    ^ back to top

    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

    ^ back to top
    Results/More Information

    Results Publications

    ^ back to top

    Ground Based Results Publications

    ^ back to top

    ISS Patents

    ^ back to top

    Related Publications

      Carswell WE, Kroeger FH, Hammond M.  QMI: a furnace for metals and alloys processing on the International Space Station. 2003 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT; 2003 1-74.

      Pettigrew RD, Kitchen L, Darby C, Cobb SD, Lehoczky S.  Design features and capabilities of the First Materials Science Research Rack (MSRR-1). 2003 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT; 2003 55-63.

    ^ back to top

    Related Websites

    ^ back to top


    image Ground MSRR-1 in launch configuration. The right side of the rack contains the MSL Engineering Model. The left side contains the MSRR-1 Rack Support Subsystems (lower portion) and the stowage container (upper portion). The left side has the accommodations/interfaces to support an additional furnace module if required.
    + View Larger Image

    image MSL's low-gradient furnace and the Sample Ampoule Cartridge Assembly in 2004.
    + View Larger Image

    image MSRR-1 in launch configuration. The left side highlighted here contains the Support Subsystems (lower portion) and the stowage container (upper portion). Image courtesy of KSC.
    + View Larger Image

    image A close up view the Low Gradient Furnace (LGF) and Solidification and Quenching Furnace (SQF) developed by the European Space Agency located on the right side of the MSRR-1.
    + View Larger Image

    NASA Image: ISS020E037829 - European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang (top foreground) and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, both STS-128 mission specialists, install a Materials Science Research Rack-1 (MSRR-1) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.

    + View Larger Image

    NASA Image: ISS021E006220 - Expedition 21 Commander (CDR) Frank De Winne works to remove a Materials Science Laboratory (MSL) Furnace Exchange Tool from the MSL Core Facility during Materials Science Research Rack (MSRR) commissioning activities in the U.S. Laboratory/Destiny.

    + View Larger Image