Space: The Final Frontier?
In the first experiment of its kind, global technology solutions company Haydale, together with researchers at the University of Central Lancashire, are exploring the practical applications of exploiting graphene in the UK space industry, by launching specially designed nanomaterial enhanced carbon fibre casings into near space using high altitude balloons.
By comparing Haydale’s nanomaterial enhanced carbon fibre to a standard carbon fibre casing, researchers are able to test both materials’ reactions to extreme conditions high above the Earth, whilst also being able to determine how graphene can be utilised in space.
Led by the University of Central Lancashire and part-funded by the UK Space Agency, this unique investigation saw the balloons reaching heights of 180,000ft – this is over five times the height reached by the average commercial aircraft. The flights were managed by Sent Into Space.
To ensure accurate results, sensors were attached to each casing to monitor and record key data including how they react to temperatures as low as minus 60°C and the effects of very low pressure. The data is currently undergoing analysis and will provide researchers with the raw data that will enable them to take the next critical steps in their research.
“We’re at the beginning of something truly exciting and this raw data could shape how the rest of the space industry utilises graphene.” Robert Walsh Professor of Astrophysics, University of Central Lancashire