Monday, November 17, 2008

Space Mafia Flummoxed By Space Cement Shoes

Do you think about concrete as much as I do? Probably not. I bet you never concerned yourself with the fact that traditional concrete needs to work with a binder that's usually cement and water, but water is hard to come by in outer space. When you find it, you're better off using it for other things, like survival.

That means that when we go to the moon and beyond, we're going to want to rethink our plans to build permanent structures out of concrete. (I know, the science fiction books all have us using plasteel, or crazy super plexiglass, or some other space-age polymer mumbo jumbo, but we haven't invented those yet, have we? Seriously. Have we? I'd like to know. But I digress...) Not to mention the mafia will have a tougher time fitting people with cement shoes out there in the void.

I guess we could still use concrete, if someone figured out how to make concrete without water, like they did at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I guess that they think about concrete as much as I do.

In a way, I'm kind of heartened to see so many scientists trying to figure out how to build things on the moon. I mean, we're not planning on landing there anytime soon, and I'm pretty sure that the space budget isn't going to be a priority until well after we're out of this current financial crisis, but it shouldn't be totally put on the back burner.

If you were going to build a space city, what would you use as your construction material?

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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