For greater than 50 years, NASA astronauts have relied on duct tape as a fix-it-all for every part from a lunar rover on the moon to an air leak on board the Worldwide House Station. Up till now, although, they haven’t had a straightforward technique to dispense the adhesive.
Enter highschool college students from 5 completely different states, who have come up with the solution.
SpaceX Crew-1 commander Mike Hopkins, a flight engineer on the house station’s Expedition 64 crew, lately demonstrated the HUNCH tape dispenser aboard the orbiting laboratory.
“This tape dispenser I believe goes to search out a variety of use right here on the Worldwide House Station,” stated Hopkins in a recorded video displaying the machine in motion.
HUNCH, or Excessive College College students United with NASA to Create Hardware, is a nationwide program that challenges college students to design and construct gear that’s then launched and used aboard the house station. Now in its 18th yr, HUNCH college students have constructed lockers, handrails, varied instruments and a galley desk for the crew to eat at and share meals. This system has even give you among the meals objects which were added to the astronauts’ menus.
This newest undertaking solved a sticky downside for the station’s crew.
“One of many key issues I like about it’s you may mainly function it with one hand. Up right here, you oftentimes are utilizing your different hand to stabilize your self,” Hopkins stated.
Earlier than the HUNCH dispenser, rolls of duct tape — which can also be known as “gray tape” or “Mach 25 tape” — and Kapton excessive temperature tape had been typically caught to the sides of labor areas, on handrails or wherever in attain. To chop the tape from the roll, the astronauts wanted to make use of scissors or, in a pinch, they tore it with their tooth.
Though crewmembers are in a position to make use of off-the-shelf dispensers for Scotch tape, the out there industrial options for the bigger duct and Kapton tape rolls lacked a seat monitor or different kind of connector to be suitable with the station’s programs.
“Very simply it goes on the information rail and you’ll see it’s already locked in place,” Hopkins stated of the HUNCH dispenser, as he mounted it on one of many partitions of the U.S. Destiney lab.
“I can have a number of [types of] tapes on on the similar time, in order that can also be good,” he stated.
The HUNCH tape dispenser was developed and constructed by college students at Windsor Excessive College in Windsor, Connecticut; Lakewood Excessive College in Lakewood, Colorado; Cypress Woods Excessive College in Cypress, Texas; Decatur Excessive College in Decatur, Alabama; Clear Creek Excessive College in League Metropolis, Texas; and Dade County Excessive College in Trenton, Georgia.
The necessity for the tape dispenser underscores the numerous makes use of that tapes have on the station. Greater than 20 completely different adhesives are used aboard the orbital complicated, although duct tape and Kapton tape are the preferred. The tapes are used for on a regular basis actions, very similar to on Earth, but in addition to maintain objects from floating away within the microgravity surroundings of house.
Duct and Kapton tapes have additionally been key in emergencies whereas in house. In April 1970, gray tape was one of many instruments wanted to assemble a makeshift carbon dioxide air scrubber for the stranded Apollo 13 crew. Two years later, Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt relied on duct tape to carry collectively a map as a stand-in fender for his or her lunar rover on the moon.
Extra lately, astronauts have used Kapton tape to construct and line customized tools for use on spacewalks to restore damaged hardware on the surface of the house station. Duct tape was additionally used to quickly patch a crack in a Russian module leaking air earlier than a everlasting repair might be devised and carried out this week.
In whole the HUNCH program has flown greater than 800 objects to the station that had been constructed by 2,575 college students from 277 taking part excessive colleges throughout the nation.
“Congratulations to all the college students with the HUNCH undertaking,” stated Hopkins. “You knocked it out of the park.”
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