NanoRacks-Faith Christian Academy-Concrete Mixing Experiment (NanoRacks-FCA-Concrete Mixing) is a NanoLab project to compare the strength and molecular structure of concrete mixed in microgravity compared with similar ground mixed concrete. The comparison is made using an Atomic Force Microscope after the NanoLab is returned to earth.Principal Investigator(s)
NanoRacks, LLC, Houston, TX, United States
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)ISS Expedition Duration
September 2011 - May 2012
29/30Previous ISS Missions
The NanoRacks-Faith Christian Academy-Concrete Mixing Experiment is composed of two concrete mixing chambers each one containing the concrete and a mechanical concrete mixing vibrator. Pressurized water is added to the mixture by opening the water control valve and the microcomputer turns on the concrete mixing vibrator for a pre-determined period of time. The mixed concrete is allowed to set and is returned to earth via the Russian Soyuz. The students compare the space mixed concrete against concrete mixed on the ground using the Valley Christian High School Atomic Force Microscope, which facilitates microscopic structural analysis.
While concrete is not likely to be used in space, studying the structural and settling properties of this mixture may lead to better understanding of the chemical and physical properties of similar mixtures. If it is found that mixing concrete in microgravity produces concrete of sufficient strength, then one could mix concrete and build concrete buildings on the moon or the planet mars that have smaller gravity fields.Earth Applications
Utilizing the unique microgravity environment on the International Space Station allows for determining the fundamental physical properties that occur when concrete is mixed and settles. By removing the force of gravity, it is hoped that the molecular structure of concrete and the properties that control its strength leads to developing a more robust form of concrete to be used on Earth.
NanoRacks Module-16 is completely autonomous and only requires installation and removal. NanoRacks Module–16 returns to earth via a Russian Soyuz return capsule.Operational Protocols
Crew interaction with Module-16 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks locker Insert from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installation and activation of the NanoRacks Frames into the EXPRESS Rack Locker, cleaning of the air inlet filter (as necessary), and data retrieval (as needed) during the mission.