The launch of the Air Force’s composite-built X-37B spaceplane will include an advanced materials investigation by NASA that will expose nearly 100 different materials samples, including composites, polymers and coatings, to the space environment.

The investigation, known as the Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS), will give engineers and designers valuable data about how the materials hold up in the environment.

“Spacecraft designers can use this information to choose the best material for specific applications, such as thermal protection or antennas or any other space hardware,” said Miria Finckenor, the principal investigator for METIS at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The METIS experiment, which is expected to last 200 days, will build on previous experiments conducted by the Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE), which observed over 4,000 composite samples in space over a 13-year period.