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Oklahoma State University

Space Cowboys at NASA Testing ISS Micrometeorite Repair System

STILLWATER, Okla. –  Seven OSU student members of the Space Cowboys team recently visited the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston to conduct experiments to test concepts for future space flight.

The OSU team, one of only a handful of university teams from across the nation selected for the testing, are investigating a tool designed by the team to repair holes in the International Space Station and other space habitats created by micrometeorites. These hazards cause risk to astronauts on long duration space missions by puncturing the module skin and exposing the crew to vacuum effects. The OSU system, called Light Breach Repair Apparatus or LIBRA, is designed to allow repair of micrometeorite damage up to one inch in diameter. Test operations are conducted in the simulated microgravity environment of the NASA Johnson Space Center's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory - the world’s largest swimming pool - that astronauts use to train for extra-vehicular activity (EVA).

OSU is participating through the Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (Micro-g NExT) program. The Micro-g NExT program challenges undergraduate students to design, build, and test a tool or device that addresses an authentic, current space exploration problem. The overall experience includes hands-on engineering design, test operations, and educational/public outreach. Test operations are conducted in the simulated microgravity environment of the NBL. Since two of the team members are certified divers, they tested their concept at OSU’s Colvin Center.

The Space Cowboys team includes OSU undergraduate students: Alexis Vance, sophomore in Chemical Engineering from Overland Park, KS; Shawn Ray, a freshman in Aerospace Engineering from Tulsa, OK; Charlie Dicarlo, a sophomore in Aerospace Engineering from Manford, OK; Skyler Jacob, a sophomore in Aerospace Engineering from Stillwater, OK; Chistian Coletti a junior in Aerospace Engineering from Cheyenne, WY; and Garrett Wilkins, a sophomore in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Edmond, OK. The student mentor is Aavron Estep, a junior in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Tulsa, OK. Aavron is a previous Micro-g NExT member and has also served as an intern in the NASA NBL. The faculty advisor is Jamey Jacob from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Funding is provided by the Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium.

More information can be found on the team’s Facebook page at

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 35,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 240,000 students who have been serving the state of Oklahoma, the nation and the world.