Lamborghini, Houston medical program testing carbon-fiber materials in space

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Machine tests tension and compression of the carbon composite material before space flight | Lamborghini photos

You might remember when Elon Musk shot his personal Tesla Roadster into space.  Lamborghini joins the space race in early November when it becomes the first auto company to use the International Space Station to conduct research. 

When a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket launches from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in early November, it is scheduled to carry a series of samples of Lamborghini composite materials. The automaker and the Houston Methodist Research Institute have been working for two years on the project, which has a goal of improving materials used on cars and in human medical applications. 

Materials being 3-D printed from continuous carbon fiber composites

The five samples will be put under the extreme stresses induced by the environment of space, Lamborghini said in its news release. Testing will take place in the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

Lamborghini and the Texas medical facility called the tests in space “an important turning point” in the research project. Among the goals is to determine any degree of qualitative degradation in terms of chemical and physical properties and mechanical properties of the materials, including those produced in “3D-printed continuous-fiber composite.”

“A joint research project was initiated to study the biocompatibility of the composite materials to determine their possible use in prosthetic implants, but also in subcutaneous devices, taking advantage of their particular properties of light weight, radio transparency and radio compatibility,” Lamborghini and the medical facility said.

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“On board the ISS for a period of six months, the materials will be subjected not only to extreme thermal excursion cycles with peaks from -40 to +200 degrees centigrade, but also to massive doses of ultraviolet radiation, gamma rays, and the flow of atomic oxygen caused by ionization, on the part of solar radiation, of the highest and most rarefied layers of Earth’s atmosphere.”

The partners also noted that, “The launch to the ISS orbital station bears the three colors of the Italian flag: the Italian contribution is represented not only by Lamborghini but also by Dr. Alessandro Grattoni, Chairman of the Department of Nanomedicine of the Houston Methodist Research Institute, and by astronaut Luca Parmitano who, on his second stint onboard the ISS, has just become its commander, an absolute first for Italy.” 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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