Colgate-Palmolive and NASA Sign Space Act Agreement
Colgate-Palmolive and NASA Sign Space Act Agreement

Former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman to serve as strategic advisor to Colgate’s R&D teams

December 7, 2022

Colgate-Palmolive Company announced today it has signed an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to explore innovative solutions to advance oral health, personal care and skin health for both astronauts in space and people around the globe. Former astronaut Dr. Cady Coleman will work alongside Colgate as an advisor to help guide research design and offer insights into the realities of space travel and life in microgravity.

The Space Act Agreement (SAA) paves the way for the consumer goods leader and space agency to fulfill Colgate's purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all, while also helping NASA achieve its strategic objectives. Through the SAA, Colgate and NASA will collaborate to test Colgate technologies – across oral health, skin health, and personal care product categories – that could help maintain or improve the health and wellbeing of future space travelers in low orbit, either before, during, or after long-duration missions. The agreement also enables Colgate to utilize the International Space Station (ISS) as an experimental testing ground, empowering the Company to discover new insights and accelerate innovations that will promote health and wellbeing for all people on Earth. 

Also through the partnership, Colgate and NASA are taking sustainability beyond our planet and into space. Together, Colgate and NASA will explore sustainable hygiene for NASA crew members by testing sustainability innovations that are suitable for space consumption, such as waterless tablets and compact packaging technologies. The findings may help astronauts live more sustainably in space, and they also have the potential to inform further product innovations on Earth.

Dr. Coleman will serve as strategic advisor to Colgate, meeting with Colgate’s R&D teams throughout the year to share expert insights and her unique perspective as both a scientist and an astronaut who has spent more than 180 days living and working in space. 

“I’m excited to work with the Colgate team as they collaborate with NASA to better understand how to maintain a healthy environment for humans living and working in space,” Dr. Coleman said. “The International Space Station is our testing ground for future missions to the Moon and Mars, and provides an important opportunity to understand how we can optimize crew health and performance in microgravity. And, like so many of the investigations that we conduct in space, this work can also lead to discoveries that will advance health and wellbeing for everyone here on Earth.”

Dr. Coleman draws upon her experience as a polymer chemist in the Air Force and her 24-year tenure at NASA, where she consulted extensively on experiment development and troubleshooting. Over the course of her three space missions, Dr. Coleman conducted more than 100 different experiments. Her first space shuttle mission, STS-73, involved designing and scaling up experimental procedures for the International Space Station (ISS), which was then in development. 

Potential topics for Colgate and NASA to explore together include oral care innovations and connected health technologies, preventative and therapeutic skin care technologies, low-water products, and more sustainable packaging suited to space flight and life in low Earth orbit. 

“We’re thrilled about this relationship with NASA,” said Stephan Habif, Colgate’s Chief Technology Officer. “I’m excited to see how the understanding of the peculiar conditions of space travel can yield impactful insights and solutions for all people to have a healthier future – whether they’re traveling to space or going about their day right here on Earth.”

The SAA heralds the next chapter in Colgate’s off-planet endeavors which began when the Company conducted two separate investigations in the microgravity environment aboard the ISS. In 2021, it launched the first-ever private sector oral care experiment on the ISS to study how plaque grows in microgravity with the goal of developing more effective oral care solutions on Earth. Earlier this year, the Company’s PCA SKIN brand launched the first private sector skin health investigation on the ISS to better understand the effects of microgravity on skin-related genes and overall skin health. Colgate scientists are currently analyzing findings from both investigations to determine how they may enhance future product formulations and benefit astronauts and Earth-bound people alike.

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