Space (Age) Inflatables and Liquid Body Armor


Okay, I’ve been wanting to mention an idea that’s been on my mind for some years and which happens to now have a patent (not by me, though): liquid body armor. From New Scientist’s Invention blog (Link):

Shear-thickening fluids – which increase in stiffness when zapped with a vibrating force – could be useful for making better body armour.

Normally, the protective garment would be soft and flexible, giving the wearer maximum freedom of movement. But, at the first sign of danger, the transducers could be activated with the flick of a switch. They would vibrate the fluid, increasing its overall stiffness and boosting the protective strength of the body armour.

Why bring it up now? Well, check out the new Russian inflatable space hotel the test for which just shot into orbit. From an article in The Age (Link):

Russia today launched a satellite designed to test the feasibility of the world’s first space hotel, the brainchild of a Las Vegas hotel tycoon who hopes to begin construction in 2011, officials said.
The Genesis-2 satellite is a smaller version of the Nautilus orbital station, which US tycoon Robert Bigelow wants to offer as a dream holiday destination for tourists of the future.
Bigelow aims to build the hotel, which would consist of several inflatable modules, by 2015 at an estimated cost of $US500 million ($A597.48 million).

Some kind of organic armor sounds like just the thing to keep the hyperspeed dust bunnies from penetrating the hull. Now I don’t know if these two ideas have been married, which is actually what my idea was, but I figure they will be someday. Put the shell in orbit and send the liquid up via ramjet or railgun. And if you’ve got incoming dustbunnies, you shift the liquid to the side that requires reinforcement.

This stuff is too cool.

via Core77

{Image Copyright © Bigelow Aerospace, Inc.}