LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2019) – An investigation from FOMS, Inc., with the capacity to manufacture 100 km of optical fibers and evaluating the autonomous production of fiber optic cable in microgravity, was successfully launched yesterday as one of several Space Tango payloads on Northrop Grumman’s 11th resupply mission (NG-11) from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Wattsville, Virginia at approximately 4:46 PM EDT. With two common fiber degradation mechanisms – convection and sedimentation – suppressed in microgravity, space-manufactured ZBLAN fibers are a unique candidate for improved imaging, remote sensing, and next-generation optical communications on Earth.
We are excited to pursue additional evaluations with partners like FOMS and create new market segments that expand the current space economy.
As an alternative to existing silica fibers currently used for data transmission across the internet, ZBLAN is the next generation of optical fibers that can transmit substantially more data over longer distances and provide advanced digital communications opportunities for multiple applications.
During the fiber fabrication process, a glass rod is softened by heat, pulled into a thinner fiber, and placed on a spool. Fiber drawn in a microgravity environment using the same process has shown substantial improvements in uniformity and reduction of impurities compared to fiber fabricated on Earth. This improvement is anticipated to significantly improve the data transmission rate and potentially result in transforming the data and communications industry.
“Space Tango launched the first evaluation of on-orbit manufacturing for biomedical applications with retinal implants on SpaceX CRS-16,” commented Space Tango CEO Twyman Clements. “As our second evaluation, the FOMS optical fiber payload will identify opportunities for technology applications. We are excited to pursue additional evaluations with partners like FOMS and create new market segments that expand the current space economy.”
The optical fiber manufacturing on an orbital platform such as the International Space Station (ISS) provides an attractive opportunity for creating a new market sector in low Earth orbit. Specialty optical fibers are ideal candidates for space manufacturing with low up and down payload mass and a high value for the resulting product with the ability to transform the communications industry.
Accompanying the FOMS’ investigation to the ISS are payloads from Big Ass Fans and the Quest Institute. For more details on these payloads, visit https://spacetango.com/whats-flying-a-look-at-space-tango-ng-11-payloads/.
About Space Tango
Space Tango provides improved access to microgravity through their Open Orbit platform for research and commercial manufacturing applications that benefit life on Earth. The Company believes the microgravity environment is a new frontier for discovery and innovation. Space Tango is focused on creating a new global market 250 miles up in low Earth orbit and envisions a future where the next important breakthroughs in both healthcare and technology will occur off the planet. Recognized for their expertise in microgravity design and operations, Space Tango believes that by exploring with industry and educational partners of all kinds, we can improve life on Earth and inspire the next generation to continue to expand the horizon of this new frontier. For more information, visit www.spacetango.com.