The Axiom Space tests key space station acrylic sample on ISS in Alpha Space's MISSE facility
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) May 15, 2019
A pair of private American companies brought a key material sample for an upcoming space station from simple concept to testing in space in only six months, in a sign of the burgeoning commercial space industry's responsiveness and agility.
Axiom Space and Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance (Alpha Space), both based in Houston, released photos on Wednesday of a specially formulated acrylic sample belonging to Axiom flying on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS) in Alpha Space's MISSE Flight Facility. It was one of more than 400 samples contained in seven MISSE carriers launched Nov. 17 on the Northrop Grumman NG-10 ISS resupply mission.
Axiom is developing a privately-owned space station that will succeed the ISS. When complete, Axiom Station will serve as the primary platform in low Earth orbit for astronauts, in-space research and manufacturing, and deep space exploration systems demonstration.
Alpha Space's commercial, turn-key services give customers like Axiom the opportunity to test materials and equipment in the space environment through the privately-owned MISSE facility. MISSE allows experimenters to expose samples to the extreme cold, heat, and vacuum of space, plus unfiltered sunlight, atomic oxygen, radiation, and potentially micrometeoroid strikes.
"The space economy is evolving fast. Our MISSE service gives customers ranging from visionary commercial space entrepreneurs like Axiom to traditional aerospace primes, component manufacturers, and even universities access to space on a quick-turn, commercial basis," Alpha Space President and CEO Mark Gittleman said. "NASA and CASIS help enable it all by providing access to the ISS, and the entire U.S. space industry benefits."
Axiom is testing whether its acrylic is compatible with the space environment. If successful, the material will be used for the windows on Axiom Station, including those in a planned Earth observatory currently in development.
The Axiom Earth Observatory (AxEO) will accommodate up to eight astronauts and provide unprecedented, 360-degree views of the planet from the earth-facing side of Axiom Station.
"The flight of this sample demonstrates the rapidity with which Axiom is developing the technology required for a lasting and flourishing human presence in low Earth orbit," Axiom CEO Michael T. Suffredini said. "That we could advance from design concept to a test on-orbit in such a short time is a testament to Alpha Space's offering and the way commercial space is transforming the industry."
Robotics used to restore full power for the Space Station
Houston TX (SPX) May 14, 2019
Robotics ground controllers in NASA's Mission Control Center at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston successfully replaced a failed Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) on the International Space Station with a spare using robotic operations on Thursday, May 2. The operation to replace the failed unit was conducted using the station's Canadarm2 and Dextre, both part of Canada's contribution to the International Space Station. Using complex robotic work to perform critical maintenance allows astr ... read more
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