What does Iris.ai have in common with SpaceX?
Iris.ai gives students, researchers, and engineers alike, the tools to realize and actualize their (spatial) dreams. And in this case, dreams of making aerospace history.
Two months after SpaceX’s Dragon launch mission, Iris.AI hosted a science hackathon or Scithon as we like to call it, in partnership with the leading composite materials research institute Swerea SICOMP. At the Scithon, we challenged researchers to find solutions to this question, “Can you create a reusable rocket using composite materials?” A concept that SpaceX has been pursuing for 15 years while the research community has been exploring such possibilities for much longer than that. Yesterday’s historic launch was the first step in achieving that milestone by attempting to mimic the reusable nature, lifespan and quick turnaround of planes used for air travel.
Before launch, SpaceX engineers pointed out that there are a thousand ways to fail, but only one way to succeed and identified the areas of possible failure; manufacturing error and material fatigue and wear out. The areas identified by SpaceX were a generalization of the known obstacles at the time of the Scithon; composite performance issues at extreme temperatures, limited durability against UV exposure and space radiation, and chemical resistance issues with rocket fuels.
Over the course of the Scithon researchers uncovered hundreds of papers to support their claims around creating reusable rockets. One of the conclusions reached suggested that nanostructured coatings provide better high-temperature performance and corrosion protection, based on this paper on the development of radiation shielding of composite space enclosures as a core element of their solution.
The Falcon X launch was supported by multitudes of research, some of which is similar to the conclusions of the Scithon teams. Two factors aiding to the success of the mission were the ability to quantify the catalytic properties of reusable thermal elements and simulating data for the design of high-temperature composites, method designed by NASA. And both of these principles relate to the conclusions reached by one of the Scithon teams.
The success of Falcon X coupled with the Sciton results argues that using Iris.AI individuals with no direct background expertise were also able to conduct innovative and groundbreaking research, often reaching similar conclusions to those of dedicated scientists, engineers, and researchers.