JACKSONVILLE, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Redwire Corporation (NYSE:RDW), a leader in space-based infrastructure for the next-generation space economy, announced the first sale of its space-crafted optical crystal to researchers at the Center for Microscopy and Electron Analysis (CEMAS), a leading electron microscopy facility, at The Ohio State University. The transaction recorded that two grams of space-made crystal were sold to the State of Ohio. Based on the size of the sample sold, crystals made in space have an approximate value of $2 million per kilogram.
The space optical crystal was fabricated at Redwire’s Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This transaction marks the first time a space materials product has been sold on Earth – a milestone for space commercialization and a demand signal for Redwire’s space manufacturing.
Optical crystals made in space could provide significant improvements to large, high-powered laser systems used on Earth. The market for high-energy lasers is experiencing strong growth with an increasing number of terrestrial applications ranging from advanced manufacturing and machining to weapon systems. These laser systems are activated by high efficiency laser lenses produced using optical crystals.
Currently, optical crystals fabricated on Earth have lower damage thresholds due to gravity-induced inclusions and defects, which limits the output of high-power laser systems since the lenses are subject to laser-induced damage. Optical crystals fabricated in space could improve system performance as they have a higher laser damage threshold due to fewer inclusions and defects due to the manufacturing process in space.
“This is an exciting milestone that validates our commercialization plan for space product manufacturing in low Earth orbit and further drives demand for production in space,” said Andrew Rush, President and CEO of the operation of Redwire. “This is a watershed moment for the commercialization of space. As we continue to refine production techniques for a variety of products, we are now expanding our focus beyond pioneering demonstrations to increase production of space products by in a sustainable, cost-effective and large-scale manner.Redwire’s orbital factory is open for business and we are expanding our on-orbit capabilities to serve new markets.
“Ohio State’s ability to work with space-produced crystals enhances our ability to develop CEMAS as an iconic, one-of-a-kind materials characterization and research facility for materials space and terrestrial, tackling complex challenges in fields ranging from cancer to planetary science. said Dr. John Horack, professor and Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace at Ohio State.
CEMAS researchers will study the crystal grown in space and compare it to potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP) crystals grown on Earth using aberration-corrected electron microscopy to observe atomic-scale differences in impurities and defects between the two materials, which has not yet been achieved. The space-made crystal presents an opportunity for CEMAS to enhance the group’s capabilities to analyze materials made in space and those that could be returned by asteroids, the Moon, and Mars in the future. Lessons learned from this research could also inform the process of developing optical crystals fabricated in space to optimize future products.
Launched in early 2021, ICF is a commercial in-space fabrication facility designed to demonstrate microgravity-enhanced techniques for growing inorganic KDP crystals that are commonly used in high-energy laser systems on Earth. The facility is just one of many Redwire ISS payloads being developed to catalyze and scale demand for commercial capabilities in LEO by producing high-value products for terrestrial use.
To learn more about Redwire’s in-space manufacturing capabilities, visit www.redwirespace.com
Redwire Corporation (NYSE:RDW) is a leader in space infrastructure for the next-generation space economy, with valuable intellectual property for solar power generation and 3D printing and manufacturing in space. With decades of flight experience combined with the agile and innovative culture of a commercial space platform, Redwire is uniquely positioned to help customers solve the complex challenges of future space missions. For more information, please visit www.redwirespace.com.