How well does concrete work in space?

Astronaut Matthias Maurer manually mixed concrete as part of a space kissing experiment. Credit: ESA / NASA

Concrete is not the first material usually considered when exploring space. Nor is it the focus of many cutting-edge research. The most common building materials have been used by mankind for thousands of years. Surprisingly, however, little is known about some of its properties due to the limitations of the environment in which it can be tested. Now this most ubiquitous material is tested in a new environment, the microgravity on board the International Space Station. Space station.

In this experiment, part of the “Cosmic Kiss” mission, German astronaut Matthias Maurer used a specially designed mixer smaller than the size of a hand and a huge inflatable bag to hand concrete with microgravity. Mix. It obviously doesn’t make much of a concrete thing, but its properties are especially communicated to scientists.

Earth’s gravity plays a major role in the concrete curing process. The process can take weeks or months, so it is impossible to eliminate the effects of gravity anywhere on Earth during that time. Therefore, the experiment mounted on the ISS.

The results of this study can lead to everything from more effective mixing strategies to better combinations of materials. But the real long-term interest may be in building space habitats using concrete analogs.

The main concrete components are not always available on Mars and the Moon, but materials with concrete-like properties help build space habitats. In the Cosmic Kiss experiment, a lunar simulated material was used as a raw material for concrete, and the material was used to create a new material. SkyA brand based on hardened materials.

  • How well does concrete work in space?

    The appearance of concrete in the lab is as follows: Compare with a sample of ISS cured by microgravity. Credits: Julian Mueller, University of Duisburg-Essen

  • How well does concrete work in space?

    Handheld concrete mixer used on the ISS. Credits: Julian Mueller, University of Duisburg-Essen

  • How well does concrete work in space?

    Astronaut Alexander Gerst mixed concrete in a similar experiment in 2019. Credit: NASA

This is not the first time this experiment has been performed. NASA experimented with concrete in 2019. The results provided information for the current test, using information on strength and cure time taken into account in the design of the new experiment.

It’s still unclear if new experiments will bring such dramatic results, but at least scientists will mess up some new and novel data. And the inhabitants of the ISS may have floating balls of synthetic rock for some time.

Specific benefits for space explorers

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How well does concrete work in space?

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