A San Diego company’s dreams are literally soaring into space Wednesday as their fiber optic product launches for a stint on the International Space Station (ISS).
With the launch, Del Mar-based FOMS, Inc. will take the first step towards creating fiber optic cables in space, a method that could improve the quality of the optic fibers and increase transmission speeds by up to 100 times, according to the company.
Fiber optics are thin, typically glass-pulled cables used to transmit data, voice and images from computers, phones and more.
Because of Earth's gravity, fiber optic cables created here often crystalize, which limits how fast they can transmit information.
FOMS says by creating the cables in space, they can increase speeds and keep up with the demand for faster technology.
"The existing Silica Fibers are having a hard time meeting the demands of 5G networks," said Dr. Dmitry Starodubov, the chief scientist at FOMS.
On Wednesday, FOMS is launching their new manufacturing platform towards the ISS where it will be drawing 100 kilometers of SpaceFiber™.
The company claims SpaceFiber™ could be 10 to 100 times faster than our existing cables. With speeds that fast, a user could download dozens of movies in one second.
The launch also marks one of the first times the ISS is being used for commercial purposes and could lead to a manufacturing era in space.
"The questions of what we do in space, why we go to this final frontier will be replaced by, 'What do we bring to ISS to fully utilize its commercial potential," Dr. Starodubov said.
FOMS will launch their tools on Northrop Grumman ANTARES rocket at 1:45 p.m. PST from NASA’s East Coast Wallops facility in Virginia. Watch the launch live here.