On December 23, NASA astronaut Don Pettit joined the crew on the International Space Station (ISS), where he’ll live and work until May. For Flight Engineer Pettit, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, this trip marks his third spaceflight and second long-duration mission.

altPettit has already performed life science work on the ISS, including collecting blood and urine samples for storage, and reviewing procedures for conducting ultrasound operations on a crewmember’s blood vessels.

But Pettit was working just as hard on the ground before his trip into space. He worked on the development of transpiration- cooled fasteners that operate like an open-loop heat pipe for use in on-orbit repair of thermal insulation on a spacecraft. By limiting the temperature rise of the fastener and the insulation, the repair would retain its strength and integrity on re-entry.

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