Micro Gravity Production
NASA and the other space agencies from around the world have demonstrated the advantages and potential of manufacturing materials in microgravity. However, because of the high cost of access to space most of the research has been focused on using microgravity to better understand the physics of a process so that production on Earth can be improved. ACME’s goal is to produce unique and valuable material in the microgravity environment then bring it back for sale on Earth. This is a fundamental change in philosophy but one that is necessary if the human race is going to expand into the Solar System.
First let’s be clear about microgravity environments. The goal is not simply to operate in a microgravity environment, the goal is to operate in an environment that is virtually free of all forces acting on the material. That means that in addition to being in a microgravity environment, you have to eliminate vibration, jitter, spinning, and any other pertubations that can result in forces acting on the material. Only then can you fully exploit the microgravity environment.
Once you have created a force free environment for your process, there are three general results you can expect:
1. The material is no different (or lower quality) than the same material made on the ground
2. The material is higher quality and/or results in greater quantity per unit of time than the same material on the ground
3. The material is unique and doesn’t exist in any form on the ground
From a purely business perspective the definition of material quality is relative to specific material properties and is driven by the value of those properties to Earth based industry. For example, our microgravity processed silicon carbide material has a lower resistivity and improved thermal conductivity – both extremely valuable to the power electronics industry.
Like any other business, the value of the quality improvement has to be determined and then balanced against the cost of production. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, this process is 90% science and the other half is business! Creating a unique or vastly improved material in microgravity does not guarantee that it will also be valuable. One of ACME’s greatest strengths is the ability to identify materials for microgravity production, assess its value to industry and estimate the cost of production. This makes us one of the leading companies in the field “ACME is already advanced in the research and development needed for full scale production in microgravity. “
Every industry on Earth can benefit from the advantages of materials produced in microgravity. Our job, collectively as the new space industry, is to make sure it happens and not waster another 40 years waiting for somebody else to do it.