Columbia Omni-Heat technology is innovating space exploration | Space

Nova C Intuitive Machines Lander.jpg

Next week, Intuitive Machines will launch its IM-1 mission, sending the Nova-C lander barreling towards the Moon in what it hopes will be the first successful U.S. Moon landing since the Apollo program. There’s something special about this lander, though. It’s the first to include Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology as an insulating material.

Heading into the final days before the launch, I caught up with Columbia’s VP of Innovation, Dr. Haskell Beckham, to talk about this intriguing partnership.

Coming full circle

To the average person, the partnership between Columbia and Intuitive Machines might seem a bit out of left field. But it’s actually more of a full circle for the sportswear company.

“The original Omni-Heat was actually inspired by the old NASA space blankets,” Dr. Beckham explained to me in a call. But there’s one key difference between the technology used to make Omni-Heat work and the original space blankets — Columbia combined the reflective technology of the space blanket with a more breathable fabric to allow for moisture to escape, making it more useable as an everyday insulation.

Thermal blankets (sometimes called space blankets) have become a useful item for helping keep your body heat in after intense incidents or sporting events. This material helped inspire Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology. Image source: SolStock / Getty Images.

The first version of Columbia’s Omni-Heat tech launched back in 2010, and it has quickly become an integrated part of the company’s cold weather gear. But ensuring it was up to snuff for a trip to space is a bit different than withstanding a trip up the mountain in the snow.

Dr. Beckham says that when Intuitive Machines first approached Columbia, he didn’t think anyone was aware of just how closely the…

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