Amazing Plastic! | Teen Ink

Amazing Plastic!

March 2, 2009
By Shruti Revankar BRONZE, Seabrook, Texas
Shruti Revankar BRONZE, Seabrook, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

For the past four decades, we as humans have made an effort to traverse the universe in search of intelligent life on other planets as well as habitable locations that humans are able to colonize. The need for space travel has increased considerably since the Earth's population is steadily increasing and the threat of global warming is growing. The spacecrafts that are to be sent out into outer space must be engineered in such a way that the craft should be able to withstand high temperatures and at the same time, shield the inhabitants inside from deep space radiation. This can all be achieved with the use of plastic. Plastic plays an important role in spacecraft because of its lightweight and durable frame but most importantly of all; it is able to shield the spacecraft from unwanted radiation and can withstand extreme temperatures which are essential for every aspect of space travel. The use of plastic makes the threat of high temperatures and radiation unlikely and insures that the spacecraft is efficient so that there isn't unnecessary spending of money.

For many years, probes and other spacecraft have merely liquefied under the intense heat that other planets in our solar system impose. It used to be that spacecraft was only composed of aluminum which proved to be useless against the battle of intense heat. Research recently conducted by NASA (National Aeronautics Space Administration) revealed that polyethylene is fifty percent better at shielding the spacecraft from harmful solar flares and other forms of intense heat then aluminum and therefore it proves as a more appealing alternative. Recently, a new type of plastic was formed at laboratories in London that were able to withstand the intensity of heat that was created by a nuclear explosion. If this form of plastic were to be applied to spacecrafts universally, we could potentially lead an expedition in parts of our solar system that we never even dreamed of exploring. Heat resistant substances are critical in the aerospace world because without this crucial property, trips to stars and planets as close as Mars would be undoable.

The threat of deep space radiation still remains a horrifying reality as well. Every time an astronaut is projected into space for a mission, they are subjected to deep space radiation which is pulsing from our galaxy. This radiation has many ill effects and if not treated, may lead to death. Studies have proved that plastics are fifteen percent better at shielding passengers in the spacecraft from radiation than any other substance or material. The advantage that plastic has over other materials is that it doesn't produce as much secondary radiation like many other components of spacecraft do. Secondary radiation comes from the shielding substance itself and it is like the 'leftover' radiation from the initial exposure. Since plastic is composed of relatively light elements, the amount of secondary radiation is considerably lower and is less of a threat to the health of the astronauts inside the spacecraft. Results from tests run by some of the most legitimate organizations showed that plastics blocked ninety percent of the harmful radiation coming from places in our galaxy and when calculated, the remained radiation that was not blocked was shown not to have any major negative effects on any passengers whatsoever. The use of plastics in this aspect of space travel ensures that astronauts can collect valuable information without worrying about their safety.

The government had recently announced that we are officially in a recession and that in order to prosper; we need to keep our spending as low as possible. At the same time, the need for space travel is becoming larger by the day since the population on the Earth begins to grow exponentially and so does the need for space colonization. Both of these tasks are possible since we obtain and use plastic in our spacecrafts. Plastic is very inexpensive and does not require as much government spending for its development. Therefore, this reduces the cost of the spacecraft dramatically since the cost of the material used to construct it is relatively low. Through the introduction of plastics, the average spacecraft has lost a couple of hundred pounds which had a drastic effect on the amount of oil and other fuels needed in order for it to operate. The amount of oil and other fuels that were used were dramatically lowered and twenty million barrels of oil were saved just through the usage of plastic. If we were to continue the use of plastics in all the spacecraft, we could save millions of barrels of oil and therefore become more efficient in our travels around the universe. This would not even conflict with the current economic crisis we are in so it will not have a negative effect on our economy or that of the world.

As you can see, the introduction of plastics has revolutionized the space exploration and aerospace industry because of its unbelievable advantages such as intense heat resistance, ability to block high amounts of radiation and the low cost. The continued use of plastics in this industry will not only benefit the United States but the entire globe as well.

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