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NASA selects proposals for ultra-lightweight materials for journey to Mars and beyond

News International-French

15 Apr 2015

NASA has selected three proposals to develop and manufacture ultra-lightweight (ULW) materials for future aerospace vehicles and structures.

The proposals will mature advanced technologies that will enable NASA to reduce the mass of spacecraft by 40 percent for deep space exploration.

"Lightweight and multifunctional materials and structures are one of NASA's top focus areas capable of having the greatest impact on future NASA missions in human and robotic exploration," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. "These advanced technologies are necessary for us to be able to launch stronger, yet lighter, spacecraft and components as we look to explore an asteroid and eventually Mars."

Composite sandwich structures are a special type of material made by attaching two thin skins to a lightweight core. Traditional composite sandwich structures incorporate either honeycomb or foam cores. This type of composite is used extensively within the aerospace industry and in other applications making it possible for future journeys to Mars. The ULW materials being developed by NASA vary significantly from traditional cores and are expected to result in a significant decrease in mass.