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A team from ESA gave K2004 visitors a demonstration on how composite materials can be used in space – and how this can lead to new technology for use on Earth.
“”Plastics and derived materials today play an important role in spacecraft – years of research and development go into creating new materials that can withstand the extreme conditions of hostile space environments on the way to Mars and other planets. Although developed for space, these new materials can often help to resolve problems on Earth,”” says Pierre Brisson, Head of ESA’s Technology Transfer and Promotion (TTP) Office.
K2004 is taking place this week in Düsseldorf from 20 to 27 October. ESA will be present throughout the eight days at a stand that will illustrate the theme ‘First choice of winners’ and show the key contribution that modern plastics have made to world-class sport. Space Day will take place on 25 October and ESA will introduce visitors to the role of plastics in space and illustrate how sport benefits from new space materials.
Last month’s Paralympic Games in Athens was a good illustration of the potential and advantages of space plastics on Earth. NetComposites News reported on how the leading German athlete Wojtek Czyz, wearing an artificial leg, made rapid improvements through the use of composite materials, winning three gold medals and setting two new world records. Czyz also undertook a 10-week training session using special equipment developed to train astronauts on board the International Space Station.
“”The success of Wojtek Czyz last month in Athens has increased attention on disabled athletes and shown what they can achieve,”” says Brisson. “”It has also illustrated how innovative technologies, in this case from space programmes, can support the objective of improving the quality of life of disabled people in our society. In ESA we have developed a wealth of advanced technologies, some ready, others that need adapting, that could provide novel solutions.””
Skiers too benefit – ski maker Rossignol has developed a new ski for speed skiing that uses a stabilisation mechanism developed for space. The heart of the system is an amplified piezo-actuator originally researched and developed for ESA and the French Space Agency CNES, and used on the MIDAS instrument aboard ESA’s Rosetta comet chaser.
ESA’s TTP makes space technologies available for licensing or further development to stimulate the spin-off of space technology and to benefit life on Earth. At the K2004 International Fair visitors will be able to learn more about the uses of space technology on Earth and discuss with the ESA team how space technology can be made available through the TTP and its network of technology brokers in Europe and Canada.
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