The principles that make light-emitting diodes energy efficient and durable on Earth also apply in space.
On May 22, SpaceXs resupply spacecraft, Dragon, docked with the International Space Station a historic mission that showed a private company could supply the station. Dragons way was literally lit with the help of AeroLEDs, a Boise company that designs and manufactures LEDs for aircraft in Boise and Nampa.
The Dragon mission needed running lights to help the stations crew spot and navigate the capsule. SpaceX sought strobe and beam lighting that would be energy efficient, compact and visible to the naked eye. SpaceX turned to AeroLEDs in 2009.
AeroLEDs CEO Nate Calvin says the lights used on the Dragon mission are nearly identical to those he sells to conventional aircraft operators. The lights required very small modifications for the environment, but overall the designs are very similar, he says.
Though the Dragon mission was high-profile, Calvin says it has affected his company only slightly. Its certainly not one of our largest accounts, he says. But its been an apogee for design.
Calvin founded AeroLEDs in 2006, when he felt LED technology was ready to be marketed for use on small, private aircraft. Since 2007, he says, the company has grown 30 percent every year, in part because of increasing demand, an expanding product line, and the companys forays into the medical and transportation markets. Says Calvin: As an engineer, Im cautiously optimistic about growth.
Harrison Berry: email@example.com