We already know that cement can be produced in space in a practical way, and not only theoretically, which will reduce material transport costs, thanks to a recent experiment carried out by NASA in orbit to Earth.
In the call MICS project (Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification) tricalcium silicate (C3S) and water outside Earth's gravity were mixed for the first time, that is, under microgravity conditions. The research has been published in Frontiers in Materials.
He MICS project It was held at the International Space Station. In the study, the researchers created a series of mixtures that varied the type of cement powder, the amount and type of additives, the amount of water and the time allowed for hydration.
What were discovered were some differences between terrestrial and space cement, according to the principal investigator Aleksandra Radlinska from the Pennsylvania State University. The main difference was porosity:
The increase in porosity is directly related to the resistance of the material, but we still have to measure the resistance of the material formed in space. Although cement has been used for a long time on Earth, we still do not necessarily understand all aspects of the hydration process. We now know that there are some differences between Earth-based systems and space and we can examine those differences to see which ones are beneficial and which are harmful to use this material in space. In addition, the samples were in sealed bags, so another question is whether they would have additional complexities in an open space environment.
Show that cement can harden and develop in space represents an important step towards that first structure built on the Moon using materials from the Moon. Now the next steps will be to find binders that are specific for space and for varying levels of severity.