UA Engineers are First to Use Space Station Test Bed

March 2010 - Research on an aluminum-silicon alloy in space could lead to stronger materials manufactured on Earth.

When astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor docked with the International Space Station on Feb. 10, more than 200 miles above the Atlantic west of Portugal, part of their mission was to collect a sample from an experiment conducted by University of Arizona College of Engineering researchers.
The small ingot of aluminum-silicon alloy was the first material sample supporting U.S. research to be processed in NASA's Materials Science Research Rack on the orbiting space station. The rack is fixed to the outside of the station and suspended in open space.
Professors David Poirier and Robert Erdmann of the UA's department of materials science and engineering, and Surendra Tewari of Cleveland State University, are researching how molten metals solidify in zero gravity and will study the sample.
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University of Arizona College of Engineering