Monthly Archives: June 2013

Calling All Innovators: LAUNCH Seeking NextGen Kevlar

The early-bird submission deadline for the 2013 LAUNCH System Challenge is tomorrow, June 15. Ten early-bird applicants will receive advice and counsel on  how to improve their submissions for the final July 15th deadline.

All you innovators, get busy!

You can find the details about the challenge at the LAUNCH.org website. Though this is a fabric challenge, fibers can be made of data, technical strands, or bio-synthetic and/or self-healing material. Pretty spacey stuff!

LAUNCH Systems Challenge

LAUNCH Systems Challenge

Don’t let the word “fabric” stop you. Kevlar, a SuperMan fabric, is an invention by Stephanie Kwolek based on a chemical compound called poly-paraphenylene terephtalamide. Kevlar has amazing properties: lighter than nylon, stronger than steel, stiffer than fiberglass, more durable than leather, and doesn’t melt like polyester.

NASA Tethered Satellite Mission

Tethered Satellite Mission

Stephanie discovered Kevlar while “playing” with polymer chains. The substance was a liquid crystalline solution with cohesive, glue-like properties — partially solid, partially liquid. She had to convince her fellow technicians to spin it as fiber, because they feared the gluey mixture would clog their machines. These fibers, which were game-changing in 1965, are regularly used for bullet-resistant vests and firefighter boots. Stephanie most likely never dreamed her discovery might be used in space. In 1992, NASA deployed a 12-mile pencil-thin Kevlar cable to secure a 1,200 pound satellite during STS-75, the U.S./Italian Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R) mission.

Perhaps you’ve invented the nextgen Kevlar. Perhaps your technical fabric solutions can be the outer shell of a long-duration space ship. We have so many challenges living on and off the planet. Help us find new solutions to age-old problems.

We need you. Submit your innovations today!!

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