There’s plenty of room at the top for nanotech research


Small Times has run its share of stories that were, well, out of this world. We have tracked the use of MEMS in satellites and covered the development of nanomaterials for spacecraft. Heck, we’ve even written about the space elevator concept without cracking a grin - well, maybe a slight grin. But nanotech experiments in space - now there’s a first, at least for us.

The 43-year-old astronaut who conducted the experiments, Brazilian Air Force Lt. Col. Marcos Pontes, spent eight days aboard the International Space Station. He blasted off March 29 on a Russian-built Soyuz rocket along with commander Pavel Vinogradov of Russia and flight engineer Jeffrey Williams of the United States. Few details were released about the exact nature of Pontes’ experiments, except that nine nanotech-related experiments were on the docket.

Brazilian Space Agency astronaut Marcos Pontes uses a computer in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station soon after his arrival. Photo courtesy of NASA
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The first Brazilian to go to space, Pontes reportedly brought along a Brazilian flag and a national soccer jersey. If his experiments are anywhere near as successful as the Brazilian soccer team then expect some impressive results. (The team has consistently been among the best, if not the best, in the world.)

Pontes left his U.S. and Russian compatriots onboard the space station and came back to Earth with the station’s previous crew, returning on April 8.