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Questions tagged [materials]

Questions pertaining to materials used for construction of space-worthy objects.

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55 views

Does the kinetic impact of gas particles cause erosion to the surface of objects in orbit?

When satellites or space stations orbit the Earth, they are constantly experiencing a low level of aerodynamic drag from Earth's atmosphere. The ISS needs to be reboosted every few months to account ...
1
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1answer
77 views

Heat Shielding Material for Reusable Craft

I'm a bit new to all this and have a quick question about heat shielding. My research tells me that for reusable craft (i.e. Space Shuttles) they used to use a plastic-based shields that would burn ...
7
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0answers
241 views

Why isn't stainless steel used for rocket engines?

Most people have probably heard by now that Elon is changing Starship to a complete stainless steel build. Anyways, it got me thinking, why isn't stainless steel ever used for rocket engines (nozzle, ...
7
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1answer
646 views

Why has SpaceX changed Starship from carbon fiber composite to stainless steel?

Recently, there was news that SpaceX changed the material used for the BFS/Starship (upper stage of the BFR) from initially planned carbon fiber to metal which seems quite counter-intuitive as carbon ...
3
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1answer
112 views

Why are ion thruster grids seperated by vacuum?

Or to rephrase: Why aren't the grids two sides of a single insulator? I'd see many upsides (mechanical and electrical properties separated, holes can't be misaligned, tuning of grid-capacitance, ...) ...
4
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0answers
58 views

Ion thruster grid material

Initially asked in Physics StackExchange: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/436260/ion-thruster-grid-material The grids of ion thrusters have to withstand erosion by ion sputtering, heat ...
3
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0answers
196 views

Chinese find material to make space elevator. How much will the cable weigh?

The article China has strongest fibre that can haul 160 elephants – and a space elevator? came out today in the SCMP, and I would like to find out how much the cable would weigh. But I'm not sure if ...
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1answer
190 views

Would adding a long pole to the International Space Station keep it from tumbling via gravity gradient stabilization?

What things can be done mechanically to make the ISS more stable in a dormant state without a crew? I have listed a couple of links that may work, but I am open for constructive criticism and new ...
2
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1answer
72 views

What advances are there in heat-resistant materials for engines?

As one of the difficulties in engine design is to prevent it from melting, one can expect research to be conducted on what materials to use for thrust chamber and nozzle. Many engines seem to use ...
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0answers
38 views

Is there an orbit that follows the polar cusp?

What orbit would follow the polar cusp in the magnetosphere demonstrated in the picture below in red? What altitude would be needed to stay in the polar cusp following the Sun?
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0answers
123 views

How is lunar regolith drawn into “glass fibers” to reinforce lunar concrete in this process?

The Verge Science video Building a lunar base out of Moon dust discusses using harvested lunar regolith (powder-like) mixed with a polymeric resin produced from "space trash" (I'm imagining discarded ...
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4answers
192 views

Inflatable Power Line?

Could the weight of a launch tower or some of a space elevator be mitigated balloons? Similar to the children's air inflated jump houses could a tower be inflated with hydrogen/helium with different ...
6
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2answers
305 views

How feasible is it to grow algae on Mars to use as food, plastic and oxygen production?

I am currently researching the idea of growing spirulina algae on Mars for as a renewable source of oxygen, food and material. So the question arises: How feasible would it be to grow spirulina in an ...
2
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0answers
111 views

Would a flat superconductor create surface area to increase its diamagnetic field uni or bilaterally to propel in space? [closed]

Instead of using a standard solar sail material could the sail be built of diamagnetic material and sail faster? Is there a way to make a thin flat sail that both uses the dimagnetic properties of a ...
3
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0answers
50 views

What particles does the space station have to worry about?

I've heard things like "even a paint chip can damage the space station" and I wanted to know to what extent that was true. I imagine the best characterization is what is the minimum momentum or ...
3
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3answers
263 views

At what size does a bigger solar sail stop increasing your acceleration?

Is there a point where the larger solar sail would not add more thrust? What is the most thrust a solar sail can produce? Can a solar sail be added to an ion engine and work better?
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2answers
376 views

Are the materials presently available to make the SpaceX space suit?

In earlier human space missions we have seen space suits which are really bulky and big in size. But in recent news we saw the latest design by SpaceX, which are seems less bulky and slim as well. ...
2
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1answer
168 views

Expected differences between concrete prepared on the ISS and matched samples prepared on Earth?

The Spaceflight Now article Cygnus arrives at station with CubeSats, quantum physics experiment describes experiments that will be done on the ISS mixing small samples of either cement or concrete (I ...
3
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0answers
72 views

Combined Mechanical Counterpressure and Gas-Pressurized suits

The "Mechanical Counterpressure" (or SAS) space suit is the holy grail when it comes to mobility, flexibility, and being lightweight however it also has it's share of problems. It's very difficult to ...
5
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0answers
147 views

Low energy cements for Mars and Callisto. Waterless cement for the Moon. Any good candidates?

In the non-polar regions of the Moon and Mercury there is a shortage of volatiles, including hydrogen and nitrogen, so they might be regaded as too valuable to be "wasted" to prepare concrete. ...
10
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2answers
388 views

How much lighter could a modern, working replica of an Apollo payload and crew be at launch?

When I was young a zillion years ago I visited the Smithsonian's Air and Space museum, and admired what I think must have been a mercury capsule. Upon peering through the window, what struck me first ...
6
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1answer
185 views

How spacecrafts are built e.g. Dragon, Orion, etc?

What materials are using to build nowadays spacecraft? What kind of joints of main structure is used - is it a welding, riveting or something else? Where can I find such informations? Any books, ...
3
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2answers
211 views

What are some common (but non-obvious) materials that are particularly unsuitable for spaceflight?

If a product was to be made for use in space, there may be certain materials or certain combinations of materials that might work well on Earth, but be particularly unsuitable for spaceflight ...
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2answers
1k views

Did Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster actually launch to space? [closed]

I'm sorry I have to ask this question but I need evidence for a friend. My answer to her that I trust people who specialize in the field to know better than me is 'BS' to her. So to begin... My ...
3
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2answers
247 views

What are the choice of materials for LOx pumps casing and impellers?

Given the highly corrosive nature of LOx and the extremely low temperature, what materials are usually used for the LOx pumps? Steel, Copper, and many alloy tend to be flammable in liquid Oxygen ...
4
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1answer
183 views

What would be the way to extract iron and aluminium in space without carbon?

How would you be able to extract aluminium and iron in the moon for example? Is there some electrolytic technique that does not use carbon?
5
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1answer
268 views

What type of electrical wiring provides the longest life in space?

It sound like standard electrical wire as you would use in earth bound transportation would have a significantly shorter life in the vacuum of space. (See related Do plasticizers evaporate in space?) ...
4
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1answer
124 views

Do plasticizers evaporate in space?

A recent statement in an answer got me wondering. I looked and could not find an answer on space.se Polymers (think plastic cladding on wires) has "plasticizers", which make it elastic instead of ...
16
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1answer
2k views

JWST observing cherry red Tesla roadster

Assuming both launches are successful, if JWST tries to solve Tesla's cherry red body paint light spectrum, what would it tell about it's composition? Could it be confusing if it was an unknown object?...
6
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1answer
309 views

To what extent, if any, does the exterior paint color of a launch vehicle affect its propellant & vehicle thermal management?

Many orbital launch vehicles use a combination of a chilled oxidiser (usually LOX when dealing with liquid-fuelled rockets) and a fuel (commonly RP-1, but with many designs now opting for Methane). ...
3
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1answer
73 views

State of the art balloon materials

What are the state of the art balloon materials used for high altitudes ascending (top of troposphere, approximately 50 km)? Are there new material improvements likely in the next future? If so which ...
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4answers
846 views

Is it possible building an Space Shuttle in reinforced concrete?

for shipbuilding, above 10 meters length, a reinforced concrete wall of 70 mm thickness is competitive in buoyancy to hull weight with wooden or metal construction. ('Les Bateaux en Ciment Armé', ...
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4answers
374 views

Can mirrors be made from fabric?

I was recently listening to a talk about JWST and other future astrophysics missions when the speaker talked about many of the size limitations associated with mirrors etc. I then thought perhaps one ...
4
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1answer
1k views

How can phenolic (resin?) handle rocket engine nozzle temperatures?

I just saw @OrganicMarble's survey answer that bravely tackles the wide variety of technologies used to make different types of rocket nozzles. One item caught my eye: Nozzles may also be made of ...
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0answers
78 views

What are the risks of using cheap industrial components for commercial space appliances esp. solution platforms for them?

This might be a stupid newbie question, but I really wonder reading that folks use cheap "commodity" hardware for satellites like mentioned here, like boards MSP430F5529 or STM32F407 but for sure ...
6
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1answer
2k views

What material is the Merlin 1D made from?

I am working on high school presentation about rocket engine materials and I'd like to have a part about Merlin 1D engine as it is supposed to be reusable, but I can't find anything about materials ...
13
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5answers
4k views

Why does the material for space elevators have to be really strong?

If the space elevator platform (The very top) is orbiting a planet in a geosynchronous orbit, wouldn't the forces on the elevator "rope" be minimal?
2
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1answer
610 views

Why does the side of the LEM look almost black in this photo? Did that cause problems?

After reading this answer about the RTGs used on the Lunar surface, I added some of the images from the Wikipdia article Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package into this answer, where I noted that ...
8
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5answers
3k views

Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction?

I just watched a VSauce2 video, at the end of which certain NASA animations were shown about some of their recent innovations. One of them included use of printers in the ISS. Do they actually mean a ...
4
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1answer
310 views

What is the air pressure threshold for cold welding?

Cold welding is a problem in vacuum of space - where two metal parts come into contact, they may weld accidentally to each other. As I understand, even a little air or other substance prevents it. My ...
4
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1answer
210 views

What properties characterize material as a good ablator?

I know the role and mechanism of ablator, I know some examples, but I still don't know "what makes a material a good ablator". Certainly combustion/evaporation temperature below the expected work ...
5
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1answer
271 views

How do I determine what materials will burn up during reentry?

The NOAA Application for Earth Remote Sensing asks "If the satellite disposition involves an atmospheric re-entry the applicant must provide an estimate of the total debris casualty area of the ...
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0answers
404 views

How are composite materials most frequently or most prominently used in satellites and rovers?

I'd like to understand how composite materials (CMs) are used on satellites and rovers. Which parts are made of CMs? If there are numerous examples, then the ones which are particularly large, or ...
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1answer
404 views

Is lead glass helpful in protecting against space radiation?

I have read that it is better to use materials like polyethylene for protection against space radiation as compared to lead. But I need transparent materials, so lead glass seemed like a good option. ...
5
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0answers
119 views

What is the specific compression strength of an orbital tower structure?

Taper ratio is a central concept for space elevators and tethers. It tells how much larger the cross section of the tether has to be at one end of the tether, compared to the other. Being a ...
5
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1answer
557 views

Why is the Falcon 9 charred like this? [duplicate]

Every time we've seen a falcon 9 land or attempt to land, it's had a start change in coloration on the outside, just above the spaceX logo. It seems that the charring/exhaust smoke/residue suddenly ...
9
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2answers
322 views

What mitigation procedures are in place in space systems to prevent whisker growth?

It has been found (from missions like the Long Duration Exposure Facility, LDEF) that some metals, especially tin and cadmium in solders, used in space-electronics assemblies, form crystal whiskers ...
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2answers
84 views

Monoatomic species at orbital altitudes

Besides monoatomic oxygen, what other monoatomic or chemically reactive atmospheric or environmental constituents, if any, are present at orbital altitudes that aren't present at lower altitudes, and ...
18
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5answers
9k views

Why not build rockets out of composite materials?

Considering how important mass ratio is for the rocket equation, why are rockets built still out of aluminium, and not some lighter material, perhaps carbon/glass fiber composites? I'm aware ...
3
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1answer
185 views

How common is resin/epoxy sealing of space-faring equipment nowadays?

In the olden days most of space-faring electronics would be embedded in resin. Hey, that's where the term "embedded software" comes from! That came with a number of advantages like pressure-proofing ...