New Zealand wool to be tested on NASA spacecraft

A sheep.
Wool comes from sheep. Photo credit: File

New Zealand wool is set to make its way into deep space.

Auckland-based company Lanaco's new wool has been used to make a breathable filter for astronauts.

CEO Nick Davenport told Newshub it has sparked the interest of NASA and is now being trialled for use in space.

"They tracked us down. There was an international scouting company based in New York and our name popped up," he said. "We got a call out of the blue."

Lanaco's head of technology, Shaun Tan, has already headed over to Houston to work with NASA on making the filter work for space.

"Being able to be at Houston, at Johnson Space Centre, and mingling with the engineers and scientists, is a great experience," he told Newshub.

"It's one of those aspirational things since I was young, looking at space, looking at rockets."

The filter could be used on the Orion spacecraft, which is set to take off for deep space exploration in 2023. It would help astronauts breathe in the event of a fire on board.

"This filter that we have is supposed to help the astronauts survive longer in a situation like that," Mr Tan said.

"You can't call 111 in space, you have to deal with it immediately and you have to breathe the air that has been affected," Mr Davenport said.

Mr Davenport said one of the advantages of the filter - a version of which has already sold well in the Asian market - is that it is natural.

"It's one of the unique things about a wool fibre: you have a natural, sustainable, renewable product," he said.