Tuesday, March 25, 2008

SpaceDev To Create Seals To Protect Lunar Hardware

SpaceToys.com Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Hat Tip: Space Fellowship)

Whoever said that the Moon was a harsh Mistress had a very good idea about what they were talking about.

Harboring dust that is both fatal to humans and irritating (at best) to mechanical life, colonizing the Moon is going to going to be "moderately daunting," if not extremely difficult.

Despite this threat from the surface of Earth's nearest neighbor, one company is working on ways of solving the dust dilemma, which may lead towards our species inhabiting that tiny world.

(SpaceDev) SpaceDev, Inc. [...] announced that it has been awarded a contract for the development of next-generation seal technologies for instrument covers. The Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research contract is scheduled for a 6-month period, during which SpaceDev plans to perform feasibility studies for seals capable of repetitive use while maintaining integrity even in the presence of severe abrasive environments such as lunar dust. These seal technologies are intended to enhance performance and enable increased mission capabilities for future lunar operations such as rovers, robotic systems, on site resource utilization and science experiments.

"This contract builds upon our heritage developing cover systems and seals for important spacecraft such as the Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes," said Mark N. Sirangelo, SpaceDev's Chairman and CEO. "Once developed, they are expected to provide a key solution set to harsh environments that presented significant operational issues during the Apollo missions. Although our initial efforts are focused on NASA's lunar requirements, we expect these products to translate over to future Mars and terrestrial applications as well."

Even though this might look like a minor issue, these seals could easily determine not only who visits the Moon, but also how many. If successful, SpaceDev could help our species to live comfortably off world, without the worry about breathing in a substance that smells like gunpowder.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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