Milliken & Company announced it is working to design and manufacture flame-resistant (FR) undergarment fabric for NASA’s Artemis missions. Artemis III will be the first U.S.-crewed moon mission in over 50 years, planned for launch no earlier than 2026.

Milliken is collaborating with global professional services firm Jacobs through the JSC Engineering, Technology & Science II contract with NASA to develop a next-to-skin textile that will be used in the clothing worn while astronauts operate space vehicles during the lunar landing mission.

NASA is working with the U.S. industry to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) to take astronauts to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis campaign. HLS vehicles will operate in environments with increased flame-resistant requirements due to elevated oxygen levels that increase the risk of fire. Milliken was selected as the supplier to develop and manufacture flame-resistant fabrics.

“Milliken views this project as an opportunity to support an American commitment to further space exploration, science and research that will positively impact future generations,” says David Smith, executive vice president at Milliken and president of Milliken’s Textile Business. “We are proud to do our part to help keep NASA astronauts safe during the Artemis missions.”

The first phase of the project began in the summer of 2023 and focused on manufacturing planning and material evaluation. Milliken leveraged its FR, knitting and finishing expertise as well as its chemical analysis, material testing and its Rapid Prototype Center capabilities to complete a comprehensive analysis of NASA’s historic materials.

“This project feels tailor-made for Milliken–it’s the perfect marriage of the FR capabilities of our Westex® brand and the knit fabrics expertise from our Polartec® brand,” says Ramesh Kesh, senior vice president of Milliken’s Textile Business. “Combine that with our manufacturing excellence and deep bench of patented research scientists and we feel incredibly aligned to support NASA on this development.”

In the project’s second phase, Milliken and Jacobs are finalizing prototypes and manufacturing the new textile for final delivery to NASA. This phase is expected to be complete by fall 2024.

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