Nanocomp Technologies, Inc., a developer of energy-saving performance materials and component products from carbon nanotubes (CNTs), today announced that its unique nanotube-based sheet material, EMSHIELD, has been incorporated into the Juno spacecraft, launched on August 5, 2011, to provide protection against electrostatic discharge (ESD) as the spacecraft makes its way through space to Jupiter.
The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Specifically, the Juno development team used Nanocomp material as a surface layer on several critical components of the flight system's attitude control motor struts and the main engine housing. Nanocomp worked in partnership with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the project, to integrate EMSHIELD during spacecraft development and construction.
"The Juno spacecraft has many composite components throughout the structure that require ESD protection especially as it will be travelling through Jupiter's extremely strong radiation belts," said Peter Antoinette, president and CEO, Nanocomp Technologies. "Lockheed was interested in implementing an alternative ESD solution to traditional aluminum foil that is typically bonded to the surface of composites. By adding EMSHIELD CNT sheet layers during fabrication of the composite, they were able to integrate ESD protection directly onto the structure, making the composite a multifunctional element of the spacecraft."
"It goes without saying, that becoming space qualified against the rigorous standards set by NASA in support of a very important space mission is a major accomplishment for Nanocomp," said Antoinette. "We are grateful that the Juno team took interest in advancing the Technical Readiness Level of our technology, and are pleased that the visibility of this mission demonstrates how advanced CNT product manufacturing has become a reality."
Nanocomp's industrially relevant CNT material is able to solve a number of cross-industry application challenges that no other material in the world has been efficiently able to solve. In fact, the Department of Defense, through its Title III Defense Production Act, has designated Nanocomp's products as "critical to national defense."
"Carbon nanotube materials have long been known to have a number of very attractive properties. They are extremely strong while being exceptionally lightweight and exhibiting attractive electrical conductivity. The challenge has been to capture these properties in product formats that can be readily integrated with existing manufacturing processes of complex components that are on the leading edge of technology," said Antoinette.
The company currently produces CNT yarn and sheet material for continued test and evaluation by government and commercial customers, and will soon be transitioning to a larger manufacturing facility in southern New Hampshire - which will emerge as the United States' first Center of Excellence for Commercial Nanomanufacturing.