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France and Materials Science

Although France has no current plans to operate dedicated microgravity research satellites, this nation has taken advantage of flight opportunities on US and Russian spacecraft to conduct materials science experiments. The 190-kg Mephisto electric furnace has flown twice on the US Space Shuttle (STS-52 in 1992 and STS-62 in 1994) to investigate directional solidification of metals. French materials science experiments have also flown on three Soviet/Russian Photon spacecraft. The 1990 Photon mission carried the CROCODILE (Croissance de Cristaux Organiques par Diffusion Liquide dans l'Espace) crystallization facility, while the 1994 flight involved the SEDEX (Synthese Enzymatique de Dextrane) enzyme synthesis experiment. In 1994 the Gezon installation on board a Photon spacecraft investigated the effects of magnetic fields on the crystallization process with the use of the Russian Zona-4M electric furnace. A second flight for CROCODILE is due in 1995, and the French firm Carrar is developing the Spacepack materials science experiment carrier for future Photon missions (References 758-761).

The CASIMIR experiment to study the growth of zeolites with a French furnace was conducted on the Resurs-F 9 vehicle in 1990. Two major materials science experiments were performed on the Mir space station in 1992 during the French Antares mission: Alice to study the transport and phase change phenomena inthe neighborhood of critical points and Supraconducteur to investigate the crystallization of a high critical temperature superconductor under zero-g conditions. A separate experiment studied the effects of heavy ions on electronic components in the space station. On the second International Microgravity Laboratory mission, a French electrophoresis apparatus was testedunder the RAMSES (Applied Research on Separation Methods Using Space Electrophoresis) program. (References 762-763).


758. "Microgravity Joint Projects, Spaceflight, October 1994, p. 330.

759. P.B. de Selding, "French To Adapt Soviet Capsule for Western Clients", Space News, 11-18 November 1991, p.17.

760. R. Riccitiello and P.B. de Selding, "Columbia To Carry European Payloads", Space News, 19-25 October 1992, p. 6.

761. "Microgravity Oven Takes Second Flight on Shuttle", Space News, 14-20 March 1994, p. 12.

762. "Information File", CNES, May 1992.

763. 'Antares Press Kit", CNES, July 1992.

Sources and Resources

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