Elon Musk’s SpaceX has managed to pull off the stunning feat of shooting aboard the most powerful rocket on Earth. But it’s just the beginning.
Trump administration considering privatizing International Space Station
The Trump administration is considering turning the International Space Station over to private enterprise, according to internal documents obtained by the Washington Post, and ceasing to fund the orbiting lab by 2024.
The plan to terminate funding is not unexpected. Last week former astronaut Mark Kelly appeared to predict the impending proposal in an a New York Times editorial in which he described the space station’s recent “surge in commercial activity”.
But Kelly warned the activity would cease if the administration abruptly cut funding.
“As the cost of access to low earth orbit continues to decline, more opportunities for commerce in space will emerge, with the International Space Station at the nexus and the United States at the helm,” he wrote.
Where am I going with all of this and how can we profit from it besides just buying tesla/boeing stock.
SpaceX uses rigid composites in their vehicle construction, layering together carbon fiber and metal honeycombs to produce a structure that’s both very light and very strong. Foams and aerogels can do lightweight, rigid, thermally impermeable layers too.
Space suits are actually the perfect application for flexible composites. No single material is resistant to everything. But if you sandwich together thin layers of several materials that are each resistant to most things, you get an everything-proof exo-suit that can still bend and flex with the wearer. Add a layer of Darlexx or similar, a la SpaceX’s next-gen space suits, top it off with a layer of flexiramic cloth, and you have a fireproof pressure suit. Put a layer of non-Newtonian fluid cushioning and some ceramic-alloy trauma plates in there too, and now it’s fireproof body armor. All you need then is a HUD in your helmet, and maybe some high-density memory foam in the seat cushions. This is stuff we could do just with products available today.
Of course the choice of dopant is important. Tantalum and tungsten are hard, dense, radiation-resistant metals that were stirred into the titanium to make Juno’s “radiation vault.” The vault protects the delicate circuitry in the science payload, sacrificing itself to embrittlement so that the electronics can live as long as possible.
Radiation hazards can be mitigated with shielding — basically, putting atoms between your payload and the high-energy charged particles that can flip bits, corrode metals, and short out connections. Lead is the obvious choice on earth, but lead doesn’t work for space flight, because it’s too soft to withstand the vibrations and too heavy to be practical in any case.
Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals and is alloyed with other metals to strengthen them. Tungsten and its alloys are used in many high-temperature applications, such as arc-welding electrodes and heating elements in high-temperature furnaces.
Is titanium or tungsten better?
Hardness – Both titanium and tungsten carbide are considerably harder than precious metals like gold and platinum. However, tungsten carbide is one of the hardest materials in existence and substantially harder than titanium, registering a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness
Tungsten is known as one of the toughest things found in nature. It is super dense and almost impossible to melt. Pure tungsten is a silver-white metal and when made into a fine powder can be combustible and can spontaneously ignite. Natural tungsten contains five stable isotopes and 21 other unstable isotopes.
Tungsten is used in many different ways because it is very strong and durable. It is very resistant to corrosion and has the highest melting point and highest tensile strength of any element. Its strength comes when it is made into compounds, though. Pure tungsten is very soft.
One of the most common, and hardest, tungsten compounds is tungsten carbide. Because of its strength when made into compounds, tungsten is used to harden saw blades and make drill bits. It can take around 10 minutes to cut just one drill bit from tungsten using a diamond cutting system, according to the BBC. Some jewelers also use tungsten carbide to make wedding bands and other rings.
Another tungsten compound that is particularly useful is tungsten disulfide. It is used as a dry lubricant in temperatures as high as 932 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius), according to the Jefferson Lab.
Some other uses of tungsten include metal evaporation work, the manufacturing of paints, making glass-to-metal seals and creating electron and television tubes.
The military uses tungsten to make bullets and missiles used in “kinetic bombardment.” This type of attack uses a super dense material to breach armor instead of explosives.
Its resistance to heat is helpful when using it in the heating elements for electrical furnaces, spacecraft applications, welding and other high-temperature applications. It was also used in making different types of lighting for this reason. The hotter a filament can get without melting, the brighter the bulb. In 1908 inventor William D. Coolidge discovered that tungsten was an ideal filament material. Today, though, most bulbs use more energy efficient materials. It is still used in X-ray filaments and in electrical contacts of various electronics, however.
Biologically, some bacteria use tungsten to reduce carboxylic acids to aldehydes.
Potential use for tungsten dust.
The density of space junk peaks around 620 miles up, in the middle of so-called low-Earth orbit. That’s bad, because many weather, scientific, and reconnaissance satellites circle in various low-Earth orbits. But that height also offers an opportunity. Below about 560 miles, small objects start to feel a significant drag from the Earth’s upper atmosphere. This drag causes them to slowly spiral toward Earth, and they eventually burn up in the atmosphere. The tungsten cloud could theoretically provide extra drag on objects orbiting above the 600-mile mark, slowing the itty-bitty debris down enough to fall below the 560-mile threshold. Tungsten wouldn’t clear up space instantly—objects at 560 miles can still circle for decades. But that’s vastly better than the centuries-long orbits of fast-moving objects even a little higher.
The advantage of this plan is its simplicity: After a rocket carries the tungsten dust into space and sprinkles it around, Isaac Newton takes care of the rest. It’s fairly cheap as well, because we wouldn’t need much tungsten—maybe 20 tons. The naval scientists picked tungsten because it’s tough and dense (70 percent denser than lead). Yet it’s abundant enough that mining 20 tons wouldn’t cost too much (unlike mining the densest elements, iridium or osmium, two of the rarest metals in existence). And again, tungsten dust seems more practical than the other solutions that scientists and enthusiastic amateurs have proposed—lasers, ion cannons, huge butterfly nets, “a giant claw machine,” interstellar Roombas with “Kevlar bags,” giant magnets, expanding blobs of insulation foam that would swallow the junk, and so on.
Tungsten Mines/Stocks to watch.
Thor mining $3.44 GBX
Thor is an exploration and development company with an advanced tungsten/molybdenum project poised for development, A growing tungsten resource, an exciting copper development project, and a lithium exploration project.