Testing has completed at Magna Parva on our ESA project to develop design and verification methods for Windows for Manned Spaceflight for future spacecraft. Final testing involved testing the glass to destruction, a very loud destruction!
During an interview with ESA about the project Richard Lamoure, Magna Parva project lead engineer, recounted how early US astronauts had to insist on having windows in their space capsules. Nowadays they are regarded as essential for docking and maneuvering, spacewalk support, scientific monitoring and crew morale.
“People just like to look outside, even if what is outside is certain death,” said Richard.
Fundamentally, glass is brittle. Any initial crack could over time lead to larger fractures – and the larger the pane the more likely such flaws are likely to be present. So the study is developing a rigorous test system, including numerical modelling, bending tests where pressure is applied and acceptance tests where the candidate pane is scrutinised for cracks.