Material developed by USM student will be tested in space

Material developed by USM student will be tested in space

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A student at the University of Southern Mississippi has helped develop a synthetic material that may reduce the cost of NASA space launches.

Third-year graduate student Witold Fuchs is working on a product to extend the life of space structures made from carbon fiber-reinforced polymers.

NASA likes to use carbon fiber materials because they are lightweight and cheaper to launch into space than heavier materials. The problem is, those materials tend to degrade quickly when they are in orbit.

“I’m working on a self-generating protective layer that is formed when the material is exposed to low-earth orbit that should extend the lifetime of these materials in space,” said Fuchs.

A few ounces of carbon fiber material protected by his product called phenyl phosphine oxide will go into space to be tested next month during a NASA mission. That testing could take up to two years to complete. Fuchs has been working on the material for about a year-and-half.

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