Adidas announced its partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) US National Laboratory, managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space–CASIS, “to explore the boundaries of product innovation, human performance and sustainability.”



One of the most important objectives of the partnership is to improve future design and engineering for athletes on and off Earth. James Carnes, vice president of brand strategy for Adidas, states: “Working with the International Space Station US National Laboratory and CASIS–one of the most advanced facilities in the world–will help Adidas set new standards in performance innovation. This partnership not only allows us to co-create improvements to sport performance but to explore processes and design that could be applicable to Adidas’ dedicated efforts in sustainability as well.”

 

The first phase of the partnership will focus on product innovation, and with the support of the ISS National Lab and NASA-developed technologies, Adidas will be the first brand to test shoe innovation under extreme space conditions. The technology will be tested without the distraction of gravity–which could affect the performance and comfort of existing shoe models and enhance innovation in new products.

 

Flight performance of adidas soccer balls tested in microgravity conditions on ISS National Lab in October 2019.
Photo: Adidas
Flight performance of adidas soccer balls tested in microgravity conditions on ISS National Lab in October 2019.

In the future, Adidas also plans to explore elements such as human performance and sustainability using the space station. Insights from the strenuous physical training developed for astronauts to withstand the toughest conditions could also allow the transfer of potential learnings to athletes. 

 

“The unique conditions of space provide the ideal environment to discover the unknown. For example, microgravity is the only condition in which we can observe specific experiments like the behavior of a spinning soccer ball without interrupting airflow and external supports holding it in place. Having control of certain variables allows us to conduct tests and collect insights that aren’t possible on Earth,” explains Christine Kretz, vice president of program and partnerships of the International Space Station US National Laboratory.

 

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