John Martin is the CTO and cofounder of Martin Materials Solutions, a U.S. company that manufactures innovative glass products for the aerospace market. Martin, whose goal is to drive the technology necessary to support this unique industry, has coined the term “spaceglass”, a reference to this truly unique type of glass.
I spoke to John about branding a new product category and his vision for the future of spaceglass.
Sarah: What is spaceglass?
John: Spaceglass is a glass material that is specially formulated to withstand the effects of space radiation to prevent darkening of the glass in outer space. Typically, Ceria is added to the glass composition when it is being made to provide two important functions: 1) prevent the formation of color centers, or darkening, and 2) absorb deep UV energy.
The latest spaceglass products offered by Martin Materials Solutions, solar cell coverglass and optical solar reflectors, utilize Corning’s 0214 microsheet glass. The glass absorbs up to 330nm of deep ultraviolet light and is designed to be extremely thin and light in order to maximize spacecraft payload capacity and reduce launch costs, which can be quite high. Proprietary radiation-resistant thin film coatings are used to meet specific space mission requirements.
Is this a name for a proprietary technology, or is this truly a new category of products?
Spaceglass truly is a distinctive product category. As its name implies, it is glass qualified for use in outer space. Martin Materials Solutions is not the only company producing spaceglass; however, we are the only ones who focus exclusively on the U.S. aerospace market.
Planning a new product launch? Download our step-by-step checklist.
What are you hoping to achieve by giving a name to the niche product you are able to create?
Demand in the aerospace market is increasing due to multi-satellite constellations and further space exploration. The greater the investment in this market, the more quickly the technology will progress. Spaceglass is designed to meet each mission's unique requirements. Due to the custom nature of spaceglass, the technology required to develop and coat the spaceglass substrates is unique and deserves its own category in the world of photonics.
Have you had any traction yet? Has anyone referred to the products as spaceglass in an outside conversation?
Yes. People are starting to use it, but I'm looking forward to a time when spaceglass is listed in the technology dropdown menu on the SPIE site.
Was there any particular inspiration in the decision to create the term spaceglass?
We started our company in 2016 with a simple mission, to create a US-based company that provides specialty space-qualified solar cell coverglasses (coverglass) and optical solar reflectors (OSRs). We came up with the name when searching for a domain name. It came back as a recommended domain name, and we were all struck by how aptly it described exactly what we are producing—American-made spaceglass products. Our domain is spaceglass.us.
What is unique about what you are producing?
Without coverglass, the radiation protection provided by spaceglass, solar cells fail soon after launch, causing catastrophic failure for very expensive satellites. Without OSRs, the thermal control provided by spaceglass, satellite electronics overheat and fail.
John's Tasting Notes: I’m a microbrewery fan—when I travel I seek them out to experience their regional style. My favorite local beer is Westlake IPA, handcrafted in Westlake, CA. The owners are passionate about their craft and it shows. The brewery has a friendly, high energy vibe.