Space Cans

Can you build a spaceship out of a soda can?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Space is a tough place to be. Flying debris, intense radiation, and alien blasters will tear you apart! So, spaceships gotta be tougher. That usually means building materials that are heavy, expensive — or both. Is rocketry forever doomed by gravity and our checkbooks? Is there a lighter or cheaper alternative?

Nikolai Belov and his team at the National University of Science and Technology, MISIS in Russia asked, “Why not BOTH?”

They discovered that aluminum is good friends with the elements nickel and lanthanum. When combined together into an alloy, they make a lightweight material that’s stronger than steel! It’s the Dream Team of metals!

This new aluminum alloy is super strong, and super cheap. And it’s easy to make! It can even be used in 3D printing! Building that new spaceship part could be as easy as printing your high school essays. Doesn’t fit? Just print another!

So keep recycling those cans! They might just take us to Mars!