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From Space to Your Home: How Spray Foam Insulation is Helping the Mission to Mars

spray foam insulation
Rocket carrying space shuttle launches off. 3D illustration.

In 1969, the United States completed a mission that just ten years prior had been somewhat unthinkable. Ask anybody alive in 1969, and they will tell you precisely where they were, what they were doing, and how they heard about the day America put a man on the moon.

July 21, 1969, was the day that America distinguished itself as the leader in innovation, technology, and space exploration. Today, NASA continues to break ground in the field. And what is its next objective? Just a little planet located 148 million miles away called Mars. And who’s going along for the ride? Spray foam insulation, that’s who.

NASA’s Eyes On Mars

Visiting Mars has been a long-term goal of aerospace experts and engineers but has thus far been left to science fiction writers. Yet, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is breaking ground to make this seemingly unattainable goal a reality and spray foam insulation is playing a role.

Thanks to some behind the scenes from Spray Foam Magazine, we got to see just how SPF is playing a role in mankind’s exploration of the big beyond. The SLS is the most advanced rocket system to date and is the next step in NASA’s space program, as they plan to launch a series of ever-improving rocket systems in a variety of missions aimed at possibly reaching even Saturn and Jupiter. It should be said, that much of these technologies are combined efforts between NASA and the private industry such as Boeing of Chicago, Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, and Teledyne Brown Engineering of Huntsville.

These new rockets have greater capabilities than previous launch vehicles. They are capable of carrying heavier payloads, which means they can launch heavier shuttles or crafts. According to NASA, the first phase of the SLS, called Block 1, will have a minimum lift capability of 70 metric tons. The SLS will be 322 feet tall and weigh 5.75 million pounds when fueled. The thrust produced at the liftoff of one of these vehicles reaches 8.8 million pounds or—as they put it—more than 160,000 Corvette engines. There are three other versions of the SLS including Block 1B and Block 2. All of these launch vehicles have similarly advanced engines.

Where Does Spray Foam Insulation Come In?

Spray foam is used for rockets designed to send space shuttles out into orbit. Space shuttles usually have an external rocket fuel tank. A team at NASA was tasked in creating the most lightweight fuel tank with durable effective insulation that can keep the tank at -423 Fahrenheit. Polyurethane foam is the go-to because of its many properties. The fuel tank is the largest part of the space shuttle and the tank is made up of aluminum and when full, the tank weighs 1,680,000 lbs. Simply a one-inch layer of polyurethane foam slightly improves the structural integrity of the fuel tank and provides excellent insulation. Polyurethane foam was developed to insulate the outer layer of the tank and protect it from the external heat of the burning rocket fuel and keep the contents of that tank cool.

Oh, and did we mention that this spray foam is often sprayed by a 25 ft tall robot!!??

Why is Spray Foam the Chosen One?

Anything that goes into space has to be largely considered for weight and fuel economy, as it must reach its destination. Unnecessary weight can hinder takeoff, flight, and even the mission as a whole. For example, early on NASA painted the foam white and this alone added 600 lbs with little benefit. Spray foam is not only durable but it is lightweight and can withstand the tribulations of deep space travel.

Why Should This Matter To People on Earth?

The main advantages that SPF provides any rocket or space shuttle, translate to your home as well. It is why early versions of the material were developed by NASA, as the ideal way to create insulation without adding extra weight and guaranteeing a durable and resistant material. As a home insulator, SPF has the same advantages for homeowners. It provides powerful insulation that keeps your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. At the same time, it prevents air leaks, which saves energy. Closed cell spray foam insulation has small little bubbles, which trap vapor and seal surfaces, preventing air infiltration.

Ever since Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words in 1969 as he stepped out of Apollo 11, man has continued to explore and wonder what lies beyond our skies. The advancements in the technology have been tremendous and the great minds that work behind these projects have also impacted life here on earth by providing materials and technology we use every day.

Get Your Home Insulated Like a Rocket

How’s that for a conversation starter at dinner parties? That’s right. Let your friends and family know that your home is insulated and protected by the same stuff used to insulate ROCKETS. It’s bound to impress. That’s just one of the perks, of course.

915 Siteworks has seen the financial benefits of installing spray foam insulation. It is not only durable, energy-efficient, but it is easy to install lasts a very long time. The spray foam must be installed correctly and for this, you want to trust the professionals and ensure the product being used is of the highest quality. We guarantee both. Give us a call today.

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