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NASA astronauts will build Adidas shoe parts on the ISS

The space agency takes another step toward embracing businesses on the International Space Station.

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Astronauts on the ISS got a delivery of Adidas soccer balls earlier this year.

Adidas

Astronauts conduct all sorts of experiments on the International Space Station. They grow lettuce, 3D-print meat and watch mice race around. Soon they will be creating shoe parts for Adidas. 

This gadget will let astronauts make Adidas Boost mid-soles in space. 

Adidas

Adidas announced a multi-year partnership with the ISS US National Laboratory on Tuesday. Adidas already sent balls into space earlier in 2019 to "examine the behavior of free-flying soccer balls in microgravity." Its next goal is to have astronauts make shoe mid-soles in space.

The footwear and apparel company will send a device to the ISS that will inject pellets into a mold for a shoe mid-sole, the layer that goes just above the tread. 

Adidas' Boost mid-soles look a lot like Styrofoam and the company is wonder how the pellets will behave and mush together in microgravity. 

Astronauts will film the action as it happens inside the clear mold. Adidas hopes the experiment will take place sometime in 2020. It also plans to send along footwear for the astronauts to try out.

The Adidas partnership is one more example of how NASA has opened the ISS up to commercial businesses. Kids' network Nickelodeon sent a supply of "slime" to the ISS on the same July SpaceX flight that delivered the Adidas soccer balls to the station.

We can expect more of these NASA partnerships as curious companies ask astronauts to age wine, bake cookies and explore new business frontiers in space. At least the crew will be sporting some sweet kicks while they're floating around.