|Satellites and other spacecraft, like most machines, have parts that move against one another. Unlike most machines, however, they operate in extremely cold conditions, their power source is often very limited, and lubricating or repairing them are not exactly easy tasks. It is for these reasons that researchers at Spainâ€™s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are coordinating the three-year MAGDRIVE project â€" an international effort to create a mechanical transmission with no touching parts, that doesnâ€™t need any lubrication.|
There would be several advantages to such a system. For one thing, conventional lubricants freeze solid at the cryogenic temperatures (around -200C/-328F) of outer space. Then, even if they could stay fluid, thereâ€™s the whole question of how to reapply them in space â€" this is a particularly valid point for unmanned spacecraft. Even when lubricated, interlocking moving components ultimately wear each other down, so fixing the spacecraft also becomes an issue.
This is an interesting idea though, longevity is always a good thing.