Dayton Company Tests Innovative Materials on International Space Station

June 21, 2024

In Dayton, Ohio, an organization named Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) has sent special materials to the International Space Station (ISS) for testing. These materials, called shape memory polymer (SMP) composites, have the unique ability to return to a specific shape when exposed to certain triggers like heat or light. This makes them incredibly useful for applications like space construction and repair.

The experiment, part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment-19 (MISSE-19), aims to see how these materials perform in the extreme conditions of space, such as exposure to the vacuum, temperature changes, and radiation. CRG provided 11 samples of these SMP composites, each measuring 3 x 3 inches, which will be left outside the ISS for six months before being brought back to Earth for analysis.

The goal is to compare how the materials perform before and after being in space to understand their potential for future space missions, including building and repairing structures on the Moon and Mars. CRG is particularly interested in using these materials to create self-aligning, thermally activated joints that can be used by robots for construction in space.

This experiment is a significant step in advancing SMP composites for practical use in space exploration. The data collected will help CRG develop innovative solutions for challenges like space debris management and robotic assembly in space. If successful, it could lead to more efficient and resilient materials for future space missions.

Here’s what the Press Release had to say: Dayton, OH – As the International Space Station (ISS) streaks through the night sky at five miles per second, it carries an array of Dayton ingenuity: Cornerstone Research Group’s (CRG) shape memory polymer (SMP) composite samples. Mounted on the exterior of the ISS, these locally engineered materials are braving the harsh environment of space in an experiment marking a significant advancement in material research for future space missions.

This milestone is part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment-19 (MISSE-19), a collaborative project involving NASA and various research entities to test the performance and durability of materials in the harsh space environment. Understanding how they behave under extreme conditions, including exposure to the vacuum of space, temperature fluctuations and radiation, is crucial.

CRG has provided 11 SMP samples, each measuring 3 x 3 inches, of two different composite formulations. These samples were selected based on their potential applications in lunar and Martian environments.

SMP composites combine polymers with other reinforcing components to exhibit the ability to return to a predetermined shape when exposed to an external stimulus, such as heat, light or electrical current. These are useful in applications requiring adaptability and resilience, such as biomedical devices, aerospace structures and smart textiles.

The SMP composites being tested will be a foundational component of a new CRG self-aligning, thermally activated reversible joint suitable for various extraterrestrial construction activities. Its low insertion force, high ultimate load capacity, and dust-tolerant features allow for ease of autonomous assembly by robotics and for in-space construction activities on lunar, Martian and asteroid surfaces. (Learn more about the CRG dust-tolerant joints at

On March 21, 2024, the SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying MISSE-19 successfully launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. After two days of travel, the capsule docked to the International Space Station (ISS) where NASA astronauts Laral O’Hara and Matthew Domick unpacked the MISSE-19 platform. On April 10, the sample carrier was mounted to the exterior of the ISS by a robotic arm, open to the space environment, where the materials will remain for approximately six months, at which time they will be returned to Earth on a future mission.

The primary goal of this experiment is to compare the performance of pre-flight and post-flight samples to assess the impact of space exposure. This research will help determine the viability of these materials for future space applications, including reusable attachment devices for space debris remediation and reversible robotic attachment components for in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing objectives.

If successful, CRG plans to build the aforementioned dust-tolerant reversible joints from the space-exposed samples and compare the results to unexposed samples. Additionally, CRG has secured a contract with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Inc. (CASIS) to send a cyclic test apparatus to the ISS on MISSE-21. This experiment, scheduled for early 2025, will further evaluate the SMP composites by performing attachment and detachment operations for six months.

“This experiment is a crucial step in advancing our SMP composites towards practical applications in space,” said Evan Gin, a team lead and research engineer at CRG. “We are excited about the potential implications for space debris management and robotic assembly tasks.”

Jason Hermiller, vice president of advanced materials and manufacturing at CRG. added, “The data collected from this mission will be invaluable as we continue to innovate and develop solutions for the unique challenges of space exploration.”

For more information about CRG, visit

Media Contact:

Katie Halberg

Director of Corporate Communications and Administration

Rushlight Ventures


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