Giant robot in Huntsville set to assemble parts for a Mars mission in the future.
The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, has a new robot that will use lightweight carbon fiber materials to assemble the components for a Mars mission, says Tech Times.
Carbon fiber materials are very lightweight and extremely strong, but the process of molding them into usable components is painfully slow. This new robot will be able to hold 16 spools of carbon fibers, thin as a human hair, to manufacture the parts. It will be able to construct the largest rocket parts ever assembled from lightweight materials.
Carbon fiber materials drastically reduce the rocket’s own mass and will allow for larger payloads to be lifted from the Earth’s surface. Larger amounts of fuel can also be carried, due to the lighter construction, making longer space fights possible.
Part of the robot’s design is to develop prototypes of components to be used on future missions. A 40-foot long robotic arm will allow for the construction of parts as large as 28 feet in diameter, some of the largest parts ever constructed for space flight.
These prototypes can then be tested at the Marshall structural test stands under deep space-like conditions before being actually sent into space. The first products built by the robot will be upgraded parts for the upcoming Space Launch System (SLS).
Composite material technology has seen rapid advancement in the last several years and NASA is embracing the automatic fiber placement tool in new ways to promote space travel. Composite materials are being used across NASA, from space probes to aircraft and human transport vehicles.
This robot, designed by NASA, could lead to the manufacture of components for many future space missions, including potential visits to Mars and beyond.