Techshot to Provide Partial Gravity for Cement Solidification Test Aboard International Space Station

Techshot to Provide Partial Gravity for Cement Solidification Test Aboard International Space Station

— Study expected to aid the design of space habitats and improve cement processing techniques on Earth —

GREENVILLE, Ind. (November 12, 2018) – The Techshot Multi-use Variable-g Platform (MVP), a privately-owned and operated device aboard the International Space Station (ISS) designed to conduct research at varying gravity levels, will this month host a Pennsylvania State University experiment studying how cement may behave on the surfaces of extraterrestrial bodies. Cement and MVP experiment modules are expected to launch November 15 aboard an uncrewed Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo vehicle on mission NG-10 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial space launch facility located at the southern tip of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia.

Sponsored by NASA, the investigation is an important step toward eventually making and using concrete on the moon and Mars. It is a follow-on to a previous study that tested cement solidification in microgravity aboard the station.  Together, these tests will help engineers better understand the microstructure and material properties of cement, leading to the design of safer, lightweight space habitats and improvements to cement processing techniques on Earth. The principal investigators for the experiment are Aleksandra Radlinska, Ph.D., from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, and Richard N. Grugel, Ph.D., from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Permanently installed in Destiny, the name given the U.S. laboratory aboard the ISS, MVP is approximately the size of a microwave oven. Inside are two 390 mm carousels, each of which hold up to six separate pie-wedge-shaped experiment modules and produce artificial gravity in 0.1 g increments, up to a maximum of 2.0 g. Besides cement, MVP can conduct research with a wide variety of sample types, such as plants, bacteria, stem cells, tissue chips and fruit flies, which when launched this spring were used in the first investigation processed in the device.

For the current research campaign, 12 experiment modules, and pouches containing cement and water, will be launched for processing in MVP. Once aboard the station, the water and cement will be mixed together by the crew eight pouches at a time, with two being installed in each of four MVP experiment modules on one of the unit’s carousels. Artificial gravity will be provided by the rotating carousel for three days for each group of four modules containing solidifying cement. Processing first will occur at Lunar gravity, with the next set seeing Martian gravity, and the last set solidifying at 0.7 g. Four additional cement/water pouches will be mixed and allowed to solidify in microgravity outside of MVP. The environment inside MVP, included carousel rotation, can be monitored and controlled remotely from Techshot’s Payload Operations Control Center at its Greenville, headquarters or at its Exploration Park, Florida, office.

About Techshot

Founded in 1988, Techshot is one sense a dry goods merchant for the 21st century, providing the high tech picks and shovels that federal, institutional and industrial researchers use to make new discoveries in the life and physical sciences in space. Techshot handles all aspects of a research campaign for its customers. From the design and manufacture of spaceflight certified research hardware, to the integration of the hardware and its science payload, the company is a one-stop soup-to-nuts solutions provider. Its Space Act Agreement with NASA permits it to commercially operate its equipment aboard the station.

Besides MVP, other equipment in Techshot’s space hardware catalog include a Bone Densitomer, several cell culturing research solutions, plant growth chambers, a multi-material in-space manufacturing payload known as the Techshot FabLab and, launching in May 2019, a 3D BioFabrication Facility being developed for the eventual manufacture of replacement human organs and tissues.



B-roll Video of MVP Experiment Module Installation


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