Integrity Testing Laboratory
November 8, 2022
Some say that curiosity is the mother of invention while others say it is need. Certainly, the intersection of curiosity, need and invention is where Integrity Testing Laboratory (ITL) was born.
Jacob Kleiman, President and CEO of ITL, founded his company in 1989 as a testing lab. A few months later, in January 1990, a NASA satellite designed to provide long-term data on the outer space environment had finally been brought back to Earth after spending an additional five years in space. The damage revealed was extensive. Jacob, a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Institute of Aerospace Studies, was intrigued. Clearly, new materials more capable of withstanding the rigours of space were needed. He began to analyse the materials from the satellite and study possible means of protection.
He did not keep his findings to himself. In order to focus on solutions, in 1991, Jacob founded Protection of Materials and Structures from the Low Earth Orbit Space Environment, an international conference focused on materials in the space environment. After a pandemic-related hiatus, the 13th conference took place in September 2022 in the Netherlands. “We started the conferences in Canada — the first seven meetings were held here. After that, the European Space Agency, and other international partners have hosted,” says Jacob. “Those meetings are where ITL first met up with MDA.”
MDA’s collaboration with ITL is a prime example of what MDA set out to achieve with the creation of the LaunchPad program; ITL is a highly innovative small Canadian company that has grown from a one-person shop to 13 people today. Through a series of collaborations with MDA that go back to the company’s beginnings, ITL’s work has reached heights that Jacob could not have imagined at the start.
One prominent example was a problem on the International Space Station, where the mirror-like surface of the back-metallized Teflon film used to protect electronics from the heat of the sun was creating a blinding glare for cameras used in maintenance checks. MDA went to ITL for a solution. The company developed a process called SurfTexTM. “With SurfTex, instead of that shining mirror surface, the material becomes milky white. All the properties of the material remain the same, like the thermal control properties, without the blinding glare,” explains Jacob. SurfTex is currently applied to the Thermal Control System for the Space Station’s Mobile Servicing System, designed and manufactured by MDA.
“With MDA being one of the leading companies in Canada in space exploration, the use of ITL technological solutions has provided high visibility to our products. We also gained access to international space-related markets that would be otherwise hard to reach. The fact that today in space about 30 antennas currently installed on 11 different spacecrafts are benefitting from processes developed by ITL is very rewarding. We’re very proud that we have been able to help.”