With the International Day of Human Space Flight coming up this April 12th, we have been spending a lot of time thinking about the many forms and uses of glass, especially when it comes to the crafts, labs, and telescopes used in space. Do you ever wonder what type of glass they use in space? Wonder no further! Let’s explore where few have explored before.
As you can imagine, space shuttles and stations can’t have just any glass.
Space offers harsh conditions and the materials used must be made to withstand unusual criteria. Spaceships have to withstand unbearably high atmosphere reentry temperatures which is no easy task.
That’s why many of these shuttles have triple paned, optical-quality windows. Inside, the space shuttle often utilizes a tempered alumino-silicate glass pane which is also called the pressure pane. This protection is needed so the vehicle can more easily withstand extreme cabin pressure in the vacuum of space.
Many other space vehicles and habitats, including the International Space Station, use low thermal expansion glass for the external window panes. This amazing glass has the strength to successfully withstand the tremendous cold of space, a cold that can get down to 3 degrees Kelvin.
But it’s not only about the windows, because the other parts of the shuttles must be protected as well, and that is where frit comes in. Frit is essentially finely powdered glass, and it is used to glaze the tiles that also prevent the ship from burning up mid-flight. Frit is also used underneath and on top of the shuttle as well as on the side of the engine, tail, fuselage, and the wing tops.
It is incredible how glass has changed over the years, and it will be exciting to see how it evolves from here.
While we may not be outfitting space shuttles, Bent Glass Design is known for creating the best glass products here on earth. Contact us for your future glass needs!
Why did N.A.S.A use so many tiles when they could have used more of the triple paned glass & less tiles ? Never heard of the glass failing on the shuttles
I think it’s because the temperatures reached on top, where the windows are, are far less than the ones on the bottom of the shuttle, where most of the reentry plasma is.