Redwire To Launch New Technology to the International Space Station Focused on Improving Laser Optics Products
Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy,announced todaythat it will launch its sixth manufacturing facility to the International Space Station (ISS) on Northrop Grumman’s 15thcommercial resupply mission (NG-15).
The Industrial Crystallization Facility is a commercial in-space manufacturing facility designed to demonstrate microgravity-enhanced techniques for growing inorganic KDP crystals that are commonly used in high-energy laser systems on Earth. NG-15 is set to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia no earlier than Saturday, February 20 at 12:36 p.m. EDT.
“At Redwire, we are focusing on commercializing low Earth orbit and opening up new markets through innovative technology that delivers Earth benefits,” said Michael Snyder, Chief Technology Officer of Redwire. “ICF is another important capability that could yield commercial products.”
“ICF and the other technologies that we’re testing on the space station represent cutting-edge innovation that could impact how we utilize space and expand the economic landscape,” said Tom Campbell, President of Made In Space. “With support from NASA and our technical partners, we are making incredible progress towards our near-term goal of iterating and scaling these capabilities.”
On Earth, certain KDP crystals are used in high-power, large laser systems. These crystals are often subject to laser-induced damage which limits the output of the system. This damage is often caused by impurities created during the crystal growth process. ICF will employ specific crystal growth techniques in microgravity that could minimize these gravity-induced defects and yield improved crystals for these types of applications. While organic molecular crystal growth has been studied on the International Space Station for many years, ICF is explicitly focused on growing inorganic crystals for industrial applications.
ICF was developed in partnership with NASA’s ISS Research Integration Office at Johnson Space Center. The facility is one of three ISS pilot payloads developed through this partnership that will look to catalyze and scale demand for commercial capabilities in LEO by producing high-value products for terrestrial use.