March 5, 2024

NASA Uses Ballistic Air Guns and Mock Moon Rocks in Search for Durable Space Fabrics

The innovative lab, which includes a 40-foot-long air weapon capable of shooting at velocities of 3,000 feet per second, has become a go-to destination for NASA as it analyzes situations ranging from the results of bird crashes with aircraft to ballistic effects on spacecraft.
Engineers pummeled possible spacesuit materials with mock moon rocks made of basalt like these to see how the fabrics would hold up on the lunar surface area. Credit: NASA
Now, the team has been called to evaluate numerous various fabrics that will protect humans throughout Artemis objectives to the Moon and beyond.
” If the object is pressurized, a leakage can be catastrophic depending upon how big and fast the leak is,” said Mike Pereira, the Ballistic Impact Labs technical lead. “Running this type of ballistic impact test is necessary to a variety of NASA aeronautics and space expedition missions to make sure equipment and materials reliability.”
Mike Pereira, the Ballistic Impact Labs technical lead, prepares an impact-drop tester before a spacesuit materials test. Credit: NASA
In the very first series of tests, the group evaluated products NASA is thinking about for habitats, which are created to be versatile and reasonably soft, but really stiff if struck.
To evaluate the possible materials and assess how lots of layers would be required to stop micrometeorite penetration, engineers utilized the facilitys air weapon to fire steel ball bearings at various materials. The group linked the air weapon to a vacuum chamber to remove air resistance, enabling it to shoot faster, while a suite of sensors and high-speed cams measured how each product taken in or deflected energy.
The resulting impacts take each fabric to the verge of failure to much better understand the upper limits of sturdiness and to ensure each can manage the extreme, penalizing environment of area expedition.
Other products checked included spacesuits that could be utilized for extravehicular activities on the lunar surface area and in orbit. Comprehending how materials react to impacts is necessary for astronaut security, according to Pereira.
The composite materials were a combination of compounds that consist of fibers for strength and bonding resins to enable transfer of tension and energy. To examine these potential materials, engineers used the labs vertical-impact-drop tester to toss mock simulated Moon rocks made from basalt onto potential spacesuit products.
Engineers at NASAs Johnson Space Center are analyzing the ballistics checking information to identify which materials will be best for a range of lunar exploration items.
The next difficulty for the Glenn group is evaluating materials that could record space debris. Brand-new kinds of aerogels that are lighter and stronger might be the secret to developing and releasing in-space devices provided ease of use and minimized mass for launch.

The surface area of the Moon is a severe environment with no air, low gravity, dust, and micrometeorites– tiny rocks or metal particles– flying faster than 22,000 mph. These conditions can posture a hazard to astronauts, their dwellings, and spacecraft.
Engineers at NASA Glenn Research Centers Ballistic Impact Lab are working to help the firm choose materials for future Artemis objectives and predict how they will carry out while on the lunar surface area.