Friday, June 12, 2015

Plastic Windows for the Orion Spacecraft

It's not exactly breaking news (I'm still in the mode of getting caught up, so forgive me), but NASA has is going forward with replacing glass window panes with plastic for the new Orion Spacecraft. The Orion is the new 4-person spacecraft that is anticipated to be in non-orbital space for long periods of time, as much as 270 days. Plastic is obviously lighter than glass, so every pound saved in the windows means another pound of more valuable payload can be rocketed off the earth.

The windows are triple-pane, the redundancy being driven by safety concerns. So far NASA has tested replacing just one pane with an acrylic, but since that swap was successful in initial testing, a second pane will soon be swapped out. It doesn't appear that replacing all three panes is under consideration at this point in time.

Every time I read about plastics in space though, I have to shudder thinking about what the radiation (mostly gamma) will do to the poor plastic. I've blogged in the past (1, 2 and 3) about using plastics as a radiation shield, and the surprisingly positive results, so I know that the plastic can endure, but still...

I hope all goes well with this program. It would be exciting to see people leave earth orbit again (yes, I'm old enough to remember seeing the Apollo launches and Armstrong's walk). That no one, from any country in the world, has done this in over 40 years is pretty surprising.

Previous Years

June 12, 2013 - Future(?) Retractions in the Polymer Science Literature

June 12, 2012 - Guar Gum Shortage

June 12, 2009 - Front row seat to a horse race

June 12, 2009 - Guar Gum - It's not just a thickener anymore

(What's with all the Guar gum on June 12?)


Shaghayegh said...

Hello, i need your help with my rheometery results in my project. can i email you my question? My email address is

John said...

My email address is on the left hand side of the page, real close to my photo.