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Materials International Space Station Experiment - 6A and 6B (MISSE-6A_and_6B)


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

Experiment Overview

This content was provided by William H. Kinard, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Brief Summary

Materials International Space Station Experiment - 6A and 6B (MISSE-6A and 6B) is a sample box attached to the outside of the International Space Station; it is used for testing the effects of exposure to the space environment on small samples of new materials. These samples will be evaluated for their reaction to atomic oxygen erosion, direct sunlight, radiation, and extremes of heat and cold. Results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials, with important applications in the design of future spacecraft.

Principal Investigator(s)

  • William H. Kinard, Ph.D., Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States
  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)

    Information Pending


    United States Department of Defense Space Test Program, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
    Boeing, Phantom Works, Renton, WA, United States
    Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States
    Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization

    National Laboratory - Department of Defense (NL-DoD)

    ISS Expedition Duration:

    October 2007 - October 2009

    Expeditions Assigned


    Previous ISS Missions

    NASA has conducted a series of space experiments to determine the best materials to survive in the space environment on Shuttle and Mir. This is a continuing investigation which began during Expedition 16 and will be returned to Earth during Expedition 19/20.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • MISSE-6A and 6B will assess impacts of the space environment (vacuum, solar radiation, atomic oxygen, micrometeorites and thermal cycling, etc.) on materials.

    • Specimens include candidate spacecraft materials for long-term exposure to the space environment.

    • Following return to Earth these materials will be analyzed to determine which materials could withstand the harsh environment of space and can be used in the design of future spacecraft.


    The samples for MISSE-6A and 6B include over 400 new and affordable materials that may be used in advanced reusable launch systems and advanced spacecraft systems including optics, sensors, electronics, power, coatings, structural materials and protection for the next generation of spacecraft. The development of new generations of materials and material technologies is essential to the mission of traveling beyond Earth's orbit. The samples are installed in holders and placed in experiment trays, called passive experiment containers (PECs).

    MISSE-6A and 6B were brought back to Earth onboard the Shuttle Discovery during the STS-128 (17A) mission in September 2009.

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    Space Applications

    Results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials when they are exposed to the space environment. Many of the materials may have applications in the design of future spacecraft.

    Earth Applications

    The new advanced materials and components that will be demonstrated in MISSE-6A and 6B will improve the performance, increase the useful life, and reduce the costs of future space operations of commercial weather, communication and Earth observation satellites that we all now depend on.

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    Operational Requirements

    MISSE-6A and 6B is mounted to the Station's exterior on a truss segment. It requires power provided by the Station, but does not require crew interaction. The critical interaction is between the samples and the space environment.

    Operational Protocols

    During extravehicular activity astronauts will install the MISSE-6A and 6B on the ISS. During EVAs throughout the deployment of MISSE-6A and 6B crewmembers will capture snapshots of the PECs, if time permits. Another set of crewmembers in a later increment will retrieve MISSE-6A and 6B when the experiment is completed. The samples will be returned to the investigators, who will carefully examine each to determine how the materials fared.

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    Results/More Information

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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites
  • MISSE Experiment
  • Langley News
  • Aggie Physicists Retrieve Package From Space
  • ISS Research Project- MISSE-6A and 6B
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    image NASA Image: STS105-346-007 - Astronaut Patrick G. Forrester, during the second STS-105 extravehicular activity, prepares to work with the Materials International Space Station Experiment 1 and 2(MISSE-1 and 2). The experiment was installed on the outside of the Quest Airlock during the first extravehicular activity (EVA) of the STS-105 mission. MISSE will collect information on how different materials weather in the environment of space.
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    image NASA Image ISS013E63407: Image of MISSE 3 following deployment on the outside of ISS on August 3, 2006.
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    image Image of MISSE-5 samples prior to launch to the International Space Station for deployment during Increment 11. Image courtesy of NASA, Johnson Space Center.
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    image NASA Image: s123e009655 - Close-up view of Materials International Space Station Experiment-6A and 6B (MISSE-6A and 6B) Passive Experiment Container on European Laboratory/Columbus. Photo was taken during flyaround of STS-123 Space Shuttle Endeavor.
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    image NASA Image: ISS020E037369 (Sept. 2009) --- A close-up view of a Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-6) on the exterior of the Columbus laboratory is featured in this image the STS-128 missionís first session of extravehicular activity (EVA).
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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.