Space: Business Heads for Zero Gravity

Before long, new plants may be built in the wild blue yonder

Stowed away unobtrusively aboard the Discovery shuttle last week were six stainless-steel chemical reactors, each about the size of a football. In them, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing was conducting an experiment that was not as spectacular as the main mission of retrieving crippled satellites, but potentially no less important. The company was studying how organic crystals grow in orbit. By combining chemicals in containers in the weightlessness of space, 3M's scientists were hoping to make crystals purer than any on earth.

Would 3M's experiments help improve some of its products? Could...

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