Louisiana-based Geocent’s Advanced Aerospace Materials to Fly Aboard International Space Station


Geocent, LLC, a national Information Technology and Engineering firm with its headquarters in Louisiana, was informed by NASA that its innovative materials for radiation shielding and thermal barrier coatings were chosen to fly aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to evaluate their potential applications for lunar habitation, long-term deep space missions such as Mars, and other unspecified defense applications. Geocent, with its partners Plasma Processes Inc., The University of Tennessee, and The University of Alabama in Birmingham, was awarded NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I and II funding to develop multi-functional lightweight composite materials as an integral part of a spacecraft or habitat structure to shield crew and critical avionics against Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) and secondary particles. Geocent and its partners were also awarded an SBIR Phase I to develop innovative material solutions for Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBC) that have direct application for hot rocket and missile structures such as nozzles and leading edges.

Dr. Subhayu Sen, Geocent’s Principal Investigator on these projects, located at Geocent’s Huntsville, AL office stated: “We have matured these materials to the extent that NASA has selected Geocent and its partners to fly and test them on the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-11) platform, which is mounted externally to the International Space Station”. Dr. Sen further explained that Geocent is “extremely grateful to NASA for this opportunity since the long-term durability of such materials against the overall space environment, including atomic oxygen, radiation spectrum, thermal excursions, and UV, can only be tested on the MISSE platform.”  Specific materials properties, including thermal and structural properties, are measured before and after the space environment exposure to evaluate their capability for potential applications. Successful completion of this testing is mandatory to move such materials to a higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL).

The first batch of shielding and TBC material was launched to the ISS on April 17, 2019. These samples are dedicated to characterizing thermal and radiation properties over a period of one (1) year. The samples mounted on the MISSE cartridge are shown in Figure A. An extra-vehicular activity (EVA) will be performed by the astronauts to attach the samples external to the ISS. A second batch of samples will launch in December 2019 and will be dedicated to characterizing any degradation in mechanical properties due to long term space environment exposure.


(A)  Geocent samples mounted on the MISSE sample holder and (B) MISSE platform attached to the robotic arm external to ISS (courtesy: NASA Langley Research Center website, https://misse1.larc.nasa.gov/)

This post is written by Geocent