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adidas to explore boundaries of product innovation

Sportswear giant adidas has announced a multi-year partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) US National Laboratory to explore the boundaries of product innovation, human performance and sustainability. The company says it will become the first brand owner to test footwear innovation in the ‘extreme conditions’ of space.

Earlier this year, adidas soccer balls were delivered by the NASA-contracted SpaceX CRS-18 cargo mission and have been tested in a series of experiments aimed to extend understanding of flight characteristics beyond an Earth-based wind tunnel.

James Carnes, vice president of brand strategy for adidas, said: “Working with the International Space Station US National Laboratory and CASIS – one of the most advanced facilities in the world – will help adidas set new standards in performance innovation. This partnership not only allows us to co-create improvements to sport performance, but to explore processes and design that could be applicable to adidas’ dedicated efforts in sustainability as well.”

According to adidas, space provides the ultimate testing ground to maximise material usage and value within extreme conditions and confined environments. Future research on the space station applied to the adidas ‘loop creation process’ for circular manufacturing could, it is claimed, help advance sustainable creation and recreation methods applicable to Earth.

“The unique conditions of space provide the ideal environment to discover the unknown, explained Christine Kretz, vice president of program and partnerships of the International Space Station US National Laboratory. “For example, microgravity is the only condition in which we can observe specific experiments like the behaviour of a spinning ball without interrupting airflow and external supports holding it in place. Having control of certain variables allows us to conduct tests and collect insights that aren’t possible on Earth.”

Adidas plans to send its signature Boost pellets and footwear to the ISS National Laboratory on a future SpaceX cargo mission, with testing to begin early in 2020.  Astronauts onboard the station will execute experiments without the distraction of Earth’s gravity to uncover whether it is possible to produce Boost midsoles with regions of different particle sizes– something that scientists theorise could optimise footwear performance and comfort.

The photograph above shows a spinning ball in microgravity conditions.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 2 of the December 2019 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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