A GIANT STEP: When Intuitive Machines sends the Nova-C lunar lander to the surface of the moon next year, Columbia Sportswear will also be there.
As a scientific partner of the privately held company Intuitive Machines, Columbia Sportswear provides Columbia’s Omni-Heat Infinity thermal reflection technology to help protect the spacecraft from the frigid temperatures of space. The long-awaited takeoff has been a long time coming. It was in December 1972, that 11 astronauts suited up and boarded Apollo 17 for what were now humanity’s most recent steps on the moon.
Fast-forward nearly five decades and the upcoming IM-1 mission is part of NASA’s Artemis Program lunar exploration efforts. The goal is to help pave the way for a sustainable presence on the moon. The team in the air and on the ground will also seek to gain a better understanding of the solar system. The launch was planned for the fourth quarter of this year, but in April Intuitive Machines delayed it until next year.
Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next year and carry commercial payloads. This is a long-term effort to collect information about the lunar surface before humans return to the moon under the space agency’s Artemis Program.
The objective of the TO2-IM mission, or Intuitive Machines 1 (IM-1), is to place a lander, named Nova–C, in the Vallis Schroteri region on the Moon.
Needing sponsors, Intuitive Machines approached Columbia, according to a spokesperson for the Portland, Oregon-based brand.
Common goals in thermal protection and materials were immediately recognized and a partnership was born. Materials experts from Columbia and IM discussed a variety of options for incorporating Columbia Sportswear’s latest heat reflective technology, Omni-Heat Infinity, into the Nova-C lander.
Fittingly, the brand’s Omni-Heat Infinity thermal reflection technology was inspired by NASA space blankets. Many consumers are already familiar with it, as it is used in more than 100 styles of outerwear and other Columbia products on its site and in stores. It incorporates metallic gold dots that reflect the body heat of the wearer and generate heat without affecting the breathability of the garment.
In the testing phase, IM’s thermal modeling showed that Omni-Heat Infinity’s heat reflection was beneficial when used as a panel cover, according to Columbia. This is how the technology will be used in the Nova-C. With temperatures in space that can range from -250 F to over 250 F, the Omni-Heat Infinity panel is expected to be tough enough to withstand such extreme temperatures.
Columbia Sportswear’s involvement is unprecedented as an opportunity for exploration and discovery, notwithstanding the company’s efforts to advance innovative technologies and materials that can be used for consumer products.
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