How Well Does Concrete Work in Space?

Concrete is not the first material one usually thinks of when exploring space.  Nor is it the focus of much cutting-edge research.  The most common building material has been used by humanity for thousands of years.  But surprisingly, little is still known about some of its properties, due in no small part to the limitations of the environments it can be tested in.  Now, this most ubiquitous of materials will be tested in a new environment – the microgravity aboard the International Space Station.

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Astronaut Blood and Urine Could Help Build Structures on the Moon

Thinking outside the box has always been a strong suit of space exploration.  Whether taking a picture of the Earth in a sunbeam or attempting to land a rocket on a floating ship, trying new things has been a continual theme for those interested in learning more about the universe.  Now, a team from the University of Manchester has come up with an outside-the-box solution that could help solve the problem of building infrastructure in space – use astronauts themselves as bioreactors to create the building blocks of early colonies.

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Astronauts Try Mixing Concrete in Space

International Space Station. Credit: NASA
International Space Station. Credit: NASA

What sounds like a slap-stick comedy shtick is actually solid science. With so much of humanity’s space-faring future involving habitats, other structures, and a permanent presence on the Moon and Mars, mixing concrete in space is serious business. NASA has a program of study called MICS, (Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification) which is examining how we might build habitats or other structures in microgravity.

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