The seventh in a series of Air Force Research Lab materials-related space experiments returned to Earth earlier this month with the Space Shuttle Endeavour, signaling its completion. This Materials on the International Space Station Experiment, or MISSE 7, spent 18 months on orbit. Its material specimens and technology devices were attached to the ISS exterior, exposed to environmental extremes, such as atomic oxygen bombardment and solar radiation so that scientists could measure how well they held up. Among the MISSE 7 package were nanomaterials, resins and adhesives, optical coatings and hardening, and ultra-high-temperature ceramics. MISSE 7 was the most advanced experiment so far in this series, capable of transmitting digital data down to scientists on Earth for real-time processing. The MISSE program is meant to expand the amount of space-qualified materials and technologies available for future space systems. (Wright-Patterson release)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.