The concept to produce anything in space arose in the late sixties. This summer, a prototype device was brought to the International Space Station, with the help of which optical fiber ZBLAN will be manufactured. This glass is named from the letters of the metals:
This optical fiber is superior to conventional “optics” in the transmittance factor in the infrared range and other optical indicators. If all goes well, the former “space mini-plant” in orbit for the FOC manufacture will appear.
SpaceX is responsible for delivering this prototype to orbit. ISS Astronauts and NASA staff help with organizational issues. The prototype for the production of ZBLAN in space is the cooperation s result between American technology companies Thorlabs and Made in Space.
The main “ground” FOC s drawback is lack of their transparency. Various impurities do not allow the signal to pass long distances. For example, to transmit a signal across the ocean, it is inevitable to install a large number of repeaters and amplifiers. “Space” optical fiber ZBLAN can be laid across the Atlantic without a single amplifier. The capacity of the new cables will surpass the performance of classic fiber by 50-100 times.
Now the researchers are monitoring a prototype that July this year arrived on the ISS. After this experiment, the “space” optical fiber will be sent back to Earth to check its suitability and evaluate its performance. The third test production of optical fiber will begin either November or December this year, depending on the schedule of astronauts.
If these test results are prosperous, the scientists will begin work on the unfolding of facility for industrial production of fiber optic cable in orbit.
Post time: Oct-09-2018