Profiles destined for the moon
Machine profiles from the Item range are being used to construct platforms that could soon find themselves on the moon as part of NASA's ambitious Orion mission.
To make living and working on the moon a reality, NASA is planning a manned mission to the moon to build runways using high-tech equipment. By 2015 at the latest, the new manned Orion spaceship will be launched for the first time by a new Ares rocket. This Orion crew vehicle succeeds the space shuttle, and in 2020 will be the first spaceship to take humans to the moon for more than 40 years.
A number of platforms averaging 5m wide and 2m high and constructed from Item machine profiles are currently under test by NASA. On the moon these will serve as a level surface for loads, equipment, oxygen and water tanks, as well as for the sleeping pods located outside the spacecraft. The first prototypes weighing 900 kilograms were tested intensively for two weeks last June in the sand dunes near Moses Lake in Washington State, USA. This area was chosen from a list of 20 potential environments as the sand dunes provide conditions that are very similar to the surface of the moon for optimal testing.
"The platform worked perfectly," said one of NASA's development engineers following successful completion of the tests. "Set up went smoothly - it was quick and easy - and the structure was very rugged. It was just as straightforward to disassemble the platform with this presenting no problems in poor weather conditions. During the two test weeks it was repeatedly sandblasted by winds of between 30 and 50 km/h."
One of the key requirements is the ability to assemble and disassemble the platform quickly and easily. It also has to be light and straightforward to transport. This is achieved by using eight fully assembled parts which simply need to be pieced together by the fitter. With four segments for the platform plus four legs, trouble-free transportation and easy assembly in a short time are guaranteed.
Aluminium profiles form the basis of this development. Harmonising connection technology ensures the structure is able to withstand heavy loads while being weather- and windproof.
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