• Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Heat Insulation Outfits Lunar Lander

Columbia Sportswear’s insulation technology could be taking one giant leap for outerwear with its role in an upcoming mission to space. 

The apparel company revealed Monday that, as part of its partnership with Houston-based Intuitive Machines, it would be using its proprietary Omni-Heat Infinity insulation to outfit the space exploration company’s Nova-C lunar lander on its 2024 mission to the moon. 

The heat-reflective technology uses an array of foil dots to trap warmth in jackets, gloves, hats and more.

The Omni-Heat Infinity technology is lined with gold, foil dots to reflect and trap heat. Photo courtesy of Columbia Sportswear.

Per Intuitive Machines, the technology drew inspiration from the space blankets NASA used for the Apollo missions.

Haskell Beckham, vice president of innovation at Columbia Sportswear, said what the company learns in space will translate to further innovation on here on Earth.

“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,” Beckham said. “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.”

According to Intuitive Machines, the two companies tested the material against aerospace industry standards to determine the strongest use case for it. Testing showed it would work best when used as a panel covering, so the Omni-Heat Infinity technology will reside on a panel that protects the Nova-C’s propulsion tank.

A mockup of what the Nova-C would look like upon landing on the moon. Photo courtesy of Columbia Sportswear.

Intuitive Machines will launch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket called Odysseus. If successful, the mission, called IM-1, will mark the United States’ first trip to the moon’s surface in 50 years. The rocket was set to launch in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, but SpaceX delayed its takeoff due to conditions. The company expects that, if the mission goes to plan, Odysseus will touch down on the moon in a satellite crater called Malapert A in the south pole region of the moon about nine days after liftoff.

Columbia, which has been facing some cost-cutting hurdles in recent weeks, first partnered with the private space exploration company in 2021. Steve Altemus, Intuitive Machines’ CEO and president, said the partnership marks an exciting intersection between two unexpected industries.

“Creating and defining the lunar economy requires innovation beyond the industry norm,” said Altemus. “By integrating Columbia’s Omni-Heat Infinity technology into our IM-1 lunar mission, we believe we’re trailblazing a path for near-term Earth solutions and the next generation of commercial space exploration that will open access to the moon for the progress of humanity.”

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