We at Allplastics Engineering are marking the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing on the 20th of July with a special selection of materials and finishes with Lunar connections.
The Gemini and Apollo programs afforded the inspiration for numerous scientific discoveries in space and on Earth. We will only mention a few – shock absorbing athletic shoes, translucent Teflon coated retractable roofing fabric, fire fighting breathing apparatus, solar panels, chlorine free pools and heart monitors.
High performance rockets, powerful propellants and billions of dollars in research aren’t the only ingredients that have advanced the moon landing goal.
Engineering plastics have performed a crucial role throughout the history of space flight, allowing astronauts to view their surroundings, breathe oxygen easier and travel more comfortably in orbit around the blue planet or on the way to the moon than otherwise.
Plastics are often lighter than other materials such as steel or aluminium. The selection of lighter polymers makes getting rockets and spacecrafts off the ground more efficient and cost effective. Rocket fuel is highly volatile, the less of it on board the spacecraft the better for all involved in the space mission.
Plastic seals, flooring, instrument panels and seats are among the many plastic parts that have made spacecraft lighter and manoeuvrable.
One prominent example of plastic is the polycarbonate lenses used in the helmets of spacesuits. Polycarbonate is shatter proof (250 times the strength of glass). While standard polycarbonate is easily scratched a special coating is used to make lenses mar resistant, including astronaut visors, windows and portals. Without reliable ways to view their surroundings astronauts would be at a serious disadvantage.
Astronaut visors have a thin layer of gold to protect their eyes from the unfiltered sunlight in space.