NASA conducts international space station outboard testing of new composite materials

NASA chose to bring GeoPlasma’s radiation shielding and thermal barrier coating (TBC) composites to the International Space Station (ISS) to assess whether it can meet long-term deep space exploration missions such as lunar habitats and Mars exploration. As well as material requirements for other defense applications.

GeoPlasma is a joint venture between two US companies, Geocent and Plasma Processes, and partnered with the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama at Birmingham to receive NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I and Phase II funding for research and development of spacecraft or beyond. An indispensable composite of the star’s habitat structure to protect astronauts and critical electronic equipment from the galaxy cosmic rays and secondary particles.

The thermal and structural properties of the materials were tested before and after exposure to the space environment to assess their suitability for potential applications. This advanced composite can only be upgraded to a higher level of technology maturity (TRL) if the test is successfully completed.

The first batch of shielding and TBC materials were launched on the International Space Station on April 17, 2019 for a one-year thermal and radiation performance test. The astronauts will conduct space outings and connect the samples to the International Space Station. The second batch of material samples will be launched in December 2019 and will be used to characterize the decline in mechanical properties due to prolonged exposure to space conditions.

The main researchers of the GeoPlasma project, Dr. Subhayu Sen and Scott O’Dell, said: “GeoPlasma’s materials technology is mature, and NASA chose to bring them to the International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-11) platform for testing.”

Dr. Sen added: “GeoPlasma is grateful to NASA for this opportunity because the long-term durability of these materials in the entire space environment (including atomic oxygen, radiation spectroscopy, thermal offset and UV) can only be verified on the MISSE platform. “”