• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Columbia Sportswear Taking Jacket Insulation Tech To Space

When Columbia Sportswear first crafted its Omni-Heat technology over a decade ago, inspired by space blankets, the Portland-based brand probably didn’t envision future iterations of the technology actually serving to insulate a lunar lander in a real-life situation. But Columbia is set for space with its updated Omni-Heat Infinity technology, which launches as part of Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander this month.

The Omni-Heat Infinity, a third generation of the technology that Columbia first launched in 2010, offers a proprietary heat-reflective design featuring an expanded pattern of metallic gold dots to reflect body heat without compromising breathability. The latest fabric is seen in the Arch Rock Double Wall Elite jacket, with its two layers of Omni-Heat Infinity insulation and the highest warmth-to-weight jacket produced by the company through a partnership with Intuitive Machines.

As part of the Nova-C lunar lander effort, researchers look to Columbia’s fabric to provide insulation for the lander against the temperatures in space, which can vary between -250° and 250° Fahrenheit.

“As an apparel company developing outdoor products for all seasons and all activities, it’s imperative that we test our technologies in the most extreme conditions and find ways to innovate beyond our customers’ current needs,” says Haskell Beckham, vice president of innovation at Columbia. “Taking key learnings from this partnership, we’ll be able to create new products that will help people enjoy more of the outdoors—regardless of conditions—and ultimately unlock the outdoors for everyone here on Earth.”

The Columbia and Intuitive Machines partnership launched in 2021 as a shared commitment to explore what was possible. That led to Columbia putting the Omni-Heat Infinity technology on the Nova-C lunar lander, which was selected by NASA to deliver scientific payloads to the surface of the Moon. The liftoff of the IM-1 lunar mission is targeted for a launch window that begins Feb. 14, and would be the first time the United States has returned to the lunar surface in 50 years. The Columbia technology serves to protect a panel within the lander.

Joe Boyle, brand president of Columbia Sportswear, says that embarking on a unique partnership as they have with Intuitive Machines “has the potential to drive even more innovation for our brand.”

“As we look forward, we have an opportunity to set new standards,” he says.

As part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative, the IM-1 will be the first of three scheduled lunar landings for Intuitive Machines. Steve Altemus, president and CEO of Intuitive Machines, says that by integrating Columbia’s technology into the mission, they believe they are creating a path for near-term Earth solutions and the next generation of commercial space exploration that can open access to the Moon.

Columbia employs the Omni-Heat Infinity fabric in a range of jackets and boots, but the partnership and testing that occurred with Intuitive Machines helped create the double-wall design on the Arch Rock Elite jacket.

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