Nanoracks to conduct metal cutting experiment in orbit

Nanoracks has announced its intention to conduct an experiment called Mars Outpost Demo-1, the purpose of which is to test metal cutting technology in outer space. It will take place as part of the Transporter 5 mission, which is scheduled to launch on May 25.

Metal cutting in space

Initially, the Mars Outpost Demo-1 experiment was supposed to take place back in 2020, but it was subsequently postponed several times. As a result, the Transporter 5 mission was chosen for its implementation, within the framework of which the Falcon 9 rocket would launch several dozen small spacecraft provided by various customers into a sun-synchronous orbit.

Mars Outpost Demo-1 experiment. Source: Nanoracks

One of the main features of the upcoming experiment is that it will be carried out on the rocket. It will use a miniature manipulator attached to the second stage of the Falcon 9 (it is provided by Maxar), equipped with a fast-rotating saw. It will have to cut three test samples consisting of the same alloy as the upper stage of the Vulcan rocket.

In total, the experiment will last less than 10 minutes. In the future, the manipulator will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere along with the second stage of the Falcon 9. As a rule, they are brought out of orbit a few hours after launch.

Conversion of the upper stages of rockets

The Mars Outpost Demo-1 experiment is being carried out by Nanoracks in collaboration with Voyager Space. They are part of a group of companies that received a NASA contract for the preliminary design of a commercial orbital station.

The upper stage of the rocket converted into a residential module (concept). Source: Nanoracks

In the future, Nanoracks plans to create a system called Mission Extension Kit. According to the designers, it can be used to convert the spent upper stages of rockets for their subsequent use as cargo platforms, scientific platforms or residential modules. The success of the Mars Outpost Demo-1 experiment will give the company the opportunity to take the first step in this direction.

According to

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