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adidas launches footwear materials into space

The adidas experiment was packed with supplies destined for the astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

Image © NASA

Sports product manufacturer adidas has joined the list of organisations blasting materials to the International Space Station (ISS) in the name of scientific research. A quantity of pellets made from the same plastic that the Germany-based company uses in the soles of its footwear were recently launched on a SpaceX rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The pellets were packed among a little over 2,000kg of supplies destined for the astronauts living aboard the ISS. Company experiments are often included in the cargo – for example, in 2015 beermaker Budweiser sent barley seeds to the space station. The ISS has hosted more than 200 research projects from private organisations, including at least 50 from commercial companies.

The adidas plastic pellets consist of two polymers exhibiting slightly different molecular structures, and their behaviour in microgravity will be assessed. According to adidas, this will provide its researchers with a better understanding of the materials, with the goal of designing footwear soles that can provide what the company calls ‘new performance and comfort benefits’ for athletes.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) encourages private-sector research on the ISS. Room on resupply missions is made available at no cost to academics, commercial companies and other organisations after the proposed
projects have been reviewed to ensure that a legitimate research purpose is envisaged. The only expense incurred by bodies making use of the opportunity is that of designing and packaging their experiments. NASA also allows these companies to own the intellectual property for the results from their experiments.

Not surprisingly, NASA has strict merchandising guidelines to distance itself from commercial branding and promotion. This is to avoid any assumptions that marketing claims arising after the space experiments are endorsed or promoted by the Administration.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 3 of the May 2020 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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