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Hollow microfibres will seep liquid adhesive if a puncture occures - Coutesy of ESA
Spaceships are expensive and hard to repair - the ESA is working on programs to have spacecraft "heal" themselves

Researchers at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol, as a part of the ESA's General Studies Programme, may have made a step in the right direction towards the possibility of a self-healing spacecraft.  The researchers apparently got the idea from how human skin heals itself:

When we cut ourselves we don't have to glue ourselves back together, instead we have a self-healing mechanism. Our blood hardens to form a protective seal for new skin to form underneath.
This was done by replacing a small percent of the fibres running through a resinous composite material with hollow fibres that contain adhesive materials.  One of the advantages of a self-healing spacecraft is that it is more likely that NASA could launch longer duration space missions.

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By Ackbar on 1/23/2006 2:52:12 AM , Rating: 3
The researchers apparently got the idea from how human skin heals itself.

Or maybe they got the idea from self-sealing tires... honestly though, people have been using this idea of a substance coming out to provide support/protection for a long time. I find it almost offensive that they claim the idea as new or innovative. All they found really is a new application of a long standing idea (albeit a very good application!).

RE: Duh!
By patentman on 1/23/2006 7:19:09 AM , Rating: 3

I agree with you. When I was an Examiner at the PTO a number of years ago I issued a patent on a self healing coating for fishing rods and fishing reels. A lot has been done with self healing coatings in the development new sporting goods and automobile parts etc.. That said, most of the coating I saw at that time were some kind of self healing polymer, such as a specialized acrylic. The "fibrous" system may indeed be a new twist on the technology.

But I agree, the idea itself is not new.

RE: Duh!
By mckrautski on 1/23/2006 3:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
The outgassing properties neeeded for a self-healing material to function in a vacuum may be quite a bit trickier than what can be used under atmospheric pressure...hence it may be quite a bit different than self healing polymers used here on good ol' earth.

RE: Duh!
By Alexvrb on 1/24/2006 12:59:12 AM , Rating: 2
It's still not anything like the title implies. It's not self-healing or self-repairing. It's self plugging at best. Not so terribly different from tire with some Slime in it.

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