The first external science payload berthed on the International Space Station in 2001, the successful Materials International Space Station Experiment enables NASA and its partners to evaluate the performance, stability, and long-term survivability of materials and components identified for various space-based applications and commercial uses.
Over the past 20 years of continuous-crewed science on the space station, NASA has flown 15 MISSE missions, testing more than 4,000 materials samples and specimens, from lubricants, paints, and coatings to fabrics, container seals, fasteners, and solar cell technologies. Data from these missions have helped numerous NASA, Department of Defense, and commercial spacecraft.
“MISSE-15 includes tests of concrete, spacecraft materials, fiberglass composites, thin-film solar cells, radiation protection materials, a micro-optical chip, 3D-printed polymers, and more,” MISSE project engineer Ian Karcher said. “In addition, the availability of this platform for commercial technology development contributes to the ongoing commercialization of space and development of new space technologies.”
Launched Aug. 28 on SpaceX 23, MISSE-15 includes seven NASA materials science experiments. Among them are Materials Experiment for Long Duration Exploration-2, led by principle investigator Miria Finckenor of Marshall Space Flight Center. The experiment continues research initiated in MISSE-11, testing the durability of 35 candidate materials – from spacesuit fabrics and fasteners to various 3D-printed materials, plus a variety of dust-repelling polymer films and coatings – in the deep cold and airless space environment.
Test data will give NASA and its partners new insight into advanced techniques for repelling and electrostatically dissipating lunar dust – historically a critical issue for battery and hardware life, solar power arrays, and astronaut health on the Moon’s surface. Data from the experiment could also aid development of materials for use in Artemis-era spacesuits, new exploration spacecraft, Earth observation satellites, and next-generation telescopes.
Marshall scientists are co-developers on two additional MISSE payloads: the Advanced Thermal Protection Coatings Experiment, and Testing of Impact-Resistant, Damage-Tolerant Composites with Shear-Thickening Fluid Energy Absorbing Layers.