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  • Chemische Probleme des Weltraumflugs

    Paper ID



    • Friecrish Hecht


    Universität Wien






    The realization of space flight offers a large number of chemical problems, not only concerning propellants »- as a careless observer might believe - but also on nearly all other fields of chemical research and technology. Among propellants and oxydizers, recently the diborohydride and the triflourides of chlorine respectively, have exited some interest. Among structural elements the metals Circonium, Titanium and Niobium (Columbium) are widely used. Owing to its extremely high melting point, the dioxyde of Circonium Zr02 seems to be an important element of ceramic layers for-nozzles of rockets. Nowadays fire-proof materials made from ground sulphides of Ba, Ce, Th and U have been developed, and besides this fire-proof borides of ¥, M, Nb, Ta, Zr, Ti, Ce, Th, U. The melting points of the borides of Ta and Nb exceed 2,000°C. They also show resistance against strong reducing conditions. The development of hard metals, for example from the carbides of Ti, Nb, Ta, V and W, is promoted by the modern powder-metallurgy and sinter- ceramics. The mentioned chemical elements also yield very hard nitrites,mixed carbide-nitrates, borides, and silicides. The diborides of Ti and Zr show meting points at about 3?000°C, excellent heat conductivity and high heat resistivity. New alloys of light metals must be developed, many problems of corrosion must be solved. A very important task in astronautics is reserved for the use of plastics. Among these plastics which are known since some time ago. (e.g, the vinyl - and acryl - compounds),' the organic compunds of Si, especially the so-called "silicones" are widely used. They are useful as lubricants, oils, plastic . rubber, resins etc. Likev/ise widely used are the compounds of carbon with flourine. It is possible to obtain lubricants with great stability against high temperatures and strong corrosion from such compounds. Plastics in the shape of organic glass vail be indispensable for exterior parts and instruments of spaceships and lunar observatories. Of course, their resistance against extremely low temperatures must be investigated. The space station, spaceships and - eventually - planetary bases being established, many chemicals and also air for respiration will have to be regenerated. Physiological segregation products, sewages and other waste must be turned to chemical use. The chemistry of nourishment will have to find the solution to quite a number of important problems, especially on hydroponics in view of a coming lunar basis. A great number of problems will have to be solved in the development of atomic power plants. Here, the chemistry of radioactive isotopes and nuclear chemistry will play an essential role. Exploration of the upper zones of the earth-atmosphere was tried already by rockets. Micrometeorites will be gathered and investigated by micro-analytical methods. On the field of cosmic radiation new problems will arise concerning the design of scitillation counters, using organic or inorganic crystals as luminescent matter, and combined with electronic photo amplifiers. Luminescent lithting will be useful for marking of paths on the night side of alien planets, or for the covering of space-suits and rescuing rockets. If some living organismus, or micro-organismus, would be found on foreign celestial bodies, physiological chemistiy and biochemistry would grow to a decisive importance. Building of foundries and other important factories on alien planets or the moon will enable production of raw materials and fuels. Automotive laboratories will advance fast exploration of the surface of such celestial bodies, and "planetochemistry" (corresponding to "geochemistry") will be developed as a new brach of chemistry, which will use isotopes e.g. for the determination of ancient planetary stages by measuring the radioactive decay of natural isotopes. It will have to be a task of the INTERNATIONAL ASTRONAUTICAL FEDERATION to develop a program of chemical research and a roster of scientists who would like to work on this branch field of astronatics. Already now, many of the mentioned problems could be usefully investigated in doctoral dissertations or by some other planned research work in the laboratories of universities or industry. For this purpose, further propagation of the idea of space flight within broadest circles of interested scientists is indispensable, since space flight will be achieved only by a gigantic team work.