Celebrating Earth Day: How Redwire Technology is Helping the Planet

Space technology plays a vital role in protecting the Earth and new innovations in space technology are benefiting Earth in completely new ways. Redwire technology is making an impact to benefit our home planet in many ways, from providing critical spacecraft components for Earth observation satellites to developing materials in space for use on the surface.   

Understanding Earth with Weather & Climate Change Observation Satellites   

There are many Earth observation satellites currently in Earth’s orbit carrying advanced instruments to monitor Earth’s atmosphere, support weather forecasting, and fulfill countless other functions. Satellite remote sensing has become an operational tool for weather forecasting and climate change research through mapping, supervising, and monitoring the Earth, while also helping scientists study the effects of climate change on our planet.  

Redwire has provided critical hardware for several Earth-observing satellites, which enable remote sensing and image capturing for both short and long-term Earth weather and climate observations.  NASA missions like GOES, ICESat-2, and LandSat have relied on important Redwire technology, like sun sensors and star trackers. In addition to critical functions that keep these satellites in orbit, Redwire technologies are providing essential data for scientists to analyze how our planet is changing and research ways to fix critical problems around the globe. 

Space-Enabled Manufacturing: Producing Advanced Materials in Microgravity  

The International Space Station (ISS) is humanity’s orbiting laboratory, providing a unique vantage point to monitor and study our planet. The astronauts on board the ISS are responsible for many experiments that benefit life on Earth and take part in testing new technologies for use down on the surface.  

Redwire’s Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) is designed to provide proof-of-principle for diffusion-based crystallization methods to produce high-quality optical crystals in microgravity. These microgravity-developed crystals can be used to develop improved laser optics products on Earth.  

Similarly, Redwire’s Turbine Ceramic Manufacturing Module (CMM), which launched to the ISS in October 2020, is a commercial manufacturing facility that produces ceramic parts in microgravity for terrestrial use. CMM aims to demonstrate how ceramic manufacturing in microgravity could enable temperature-resistant, reinforced ceramic parts with better performance, including higher strength and lower residual stress. For high-performance applications such as turbines, nuclear plants, or internal combustion engines, even small strength improvements can yield years to decades of superior service life. 

Video:  How 3D Printing in Space Could Revolutionize Manufacturing 

Updating the International Space Station’s Power Supply  

The many experiments happening onboard ISS for both commercialization and exploration efforts need a robust, dependable power supply.  

New Redwire technology, the ISS Roll-Out-Solar-Arrays (iROSA), will be used to augment the station’s power system, making it more solar efficient. These first-of-their-kind solar arrays will roll out on top of ISS’s existing arrays, partially obscuring them. However, the iROSA arrays are twice as powerful as the current arrays, so although they are covered up, the station will be receiving more power overall. This innovative technology will increase the space station power supply by 20 to 30% and 120 kilowatts of energy, enough to power 40 homes.  

The arrays are designed to last for decades to come, enabling more game-changing science to continue to happen on board the ISS to benefit life here on Earth and beyond.  

Image: Delivery of iROSA solar arrays to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Decades of space missions have informed our understanding of the Earth while new technology is paving the way for an even deeper understanding of the planet and providing solutions for the many challenges we face. Redwire is committed to developing next-gen space technology that will accelerate humanity’s expansion into space while also helping us ensure a sustainable future for the planet we call home.