Self-healing material could plug holes in spacecraft

The International Space Station, is equipped with 'bumpers' that vaporise debris before it can hit the station walls, and is the most heavily-shielded spacecraft ever flown, according to NASA. But should the bumpers fail, a wall breach would allow air to gush out of astronauts' living quarters.

Researchers from the American Chemical Society, led by Timothy F. Scott, have developed a self-healing material by sandwiching a reactive liquid in between two layers of a solid polymer. When they shot a bullet through it, the researchers claim the liquid reacted with oxygen from the air to form a solid plug in under a second.

Scott's team say that this material could be used in space shuttles and stations to prevent catastrophic structural penetration by orbiting space debris, that can travel at up to 22,000mph. They also say the technology could be applied to other more earthly structures including automobiles.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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