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Three Steps to a Moon Base

Space agencies and private companies are working on rockets, landers, and other tech for lunar settlement

3 min read
Illustration of moon landers and rockets.
Illustration: James Provost

In 1968, NASA astronaut Jim Lovell gazed out of a porthole from lunar orbit and remarked on the “vast loneliness” of the moon. It may not be lonely place for much longer. Today, a new rush of enthusiasm for lunar exploration has swept up government space agencies, commercial space companies funded by billionaires, and startups that want in on the action. Here’s the tech they’re building that may enable humanity’s return to the moon, and the building of the first permanent moon base.

  • 1. Getting to the Moon

    Super-Heavy-Lift Rockets: NASA is relying on the Space Launch System (SLS) for its 2024 lunar return plan—although the rocket is over budget and behind schedule. China is working to upgrade its current Long March 5 rocket (which failed in its second flight) to the Long March 9. Russia says it has finalized the design for its Yenisei rocket, but experts wonder if it will actually get built. Blue Origin and SpaceX’s rockets use reusable stages, which could make them much more economical. SpaceX’s Starship is the most futuristic of the lot, comprised of reusable stages and a built-in crew capsule.

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Twistronic Yarns Harvest Energy From Movement

Novel fabrics could power wearables and potentially harvest energy from oceans

3 min read
Three SEM images show from top, 3 twisted slightly plied yarns, a plied harvester and a twist configuration, colorized to highlight the sections.

Twistrons, made from spun carbon nanotubes (CNTs), convert mechanical movement into electricity. UT Dallas researchers made a new kind of twistron by intertwining three individual strands of spun carbon nanotube fibers to make a single yarn. Their method was similar to the way conventional yarns used in textiles are constructed.

The University of Texas at Dallas

Novel yarns made with carbon nanotubes can generate electricity from mechanical energy better than any other material to date, a new study finds.

The high-tech yarns, known as twistrons, can be sewn into clothes to produce electricity from human motion or deployed in the ocean to harvest energy from waves, researchers say.

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Fine-Tuning the Factory: Simulation App Helps Optimize Additive Manufacturing Facility

Additive manufacturing processes can provide rapid and customizable production of high-quality components

7 min read
Fine-Tuning the Factory: Simulation App Helps Optimize Additive Manufacturing Facility

An example of a part produced through the metal powder bed fusion process.

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

History teaches that the Industrial Revolution began in England in the mid-18th century. While that era of sooty foundries and mills is long past, manufacturing remains essential — and challenging. One promising way to meet modern industrial challenges is by using additive manufacturing (AM) processes, such as powder bed fusion and other emerging techniques. To fulfill its promise of rapid, precise, and customizable production, AM demands more than just a retooling of factory equipment; it also calls for new approaches to factory operation and management.

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