Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance (Alpha Space), a newly formed spin-off company of MEI Technologies, Inc. (MEIT), announced today that a cooperative agreement has been signed with NASA to conduct a commercial project that will lead to the development, integration, deployment and operation of the Materials International Space Station (ISS) Experiment (MISSE) materials research flight facility on the ISS. The period of performance is through June 30, 2024 with the expectation to operate through the life of the ISS.
“The MISSE materials research flight facility will be the first facility in the world to offer pure materials science research to the commercial sector,” said Alpha Space Operations Manager, Darrin Walker. “Our cooperative agreement with NASA will allow MISSE to host up to twelve sample carriers around a central tower to serve the experiment community.”
The cooperative agreement will advance technology developments and research by establishing a permanent external location for materials research. The specific objective is to minimize the cost and optimize the results of material science research in a commercial partnership, while reducing ISS Program resource requirements.
“The MISSE facility provides the ISS with an important new capability for materials research. Importantly, however, the development and operation of this capability as a commercial facility, with NASA as an initial customer, continues the expansion of the ISS as a commercial platform,” stated Mike Read, manager of the International Space Station National Lab Office. “We are pleased to have Alpha Space as a new partner in our ongoing efforts to enable a thriving commercial market in low-Earth orbit, using the ISS as a springboard.”
The permanent MISSE facility is planned for initial operations in 2017 with subsequent launches every six months. MISSE will provide unparalleled materials testing and data collection for both passive and active materials samples at an affordable cost to the experiment community. MISSE will also fly non-materials research on a space-available basis.
While Alpha Space is a new company, the employees supporting it have a long, successful track record through work performed under MEIT. Through MEIT’s legacy prime contract of over twenty years – now known as the DHEP Bridge (DHEP-B) contract which supports the DoD Space Test Program at NASA JSC – MEIT personnel have safely and successfully integrated over 300 payload and experiment packages for deployment on the ISS and Space Shuttle. Under this contract and its legacy contracts, MEIT personnel integrated the MISSE-1 through MISSE-8 experiments. The MISSE facility being built by Alpha Space in cooperation with NASA is aptly named in continuation of this work performed by MEIT.
“In the interest of forming an agile commercial space company that could provide unique services to the Materials Science community, Alpha Space was formed,” stated Alpha Space Principle, Stephanie Muniz Murphy. “The expertise and performance history our team achieved through MEIT and our strong relationship with NASA will propel Alpha Space into a successful future.”