Is It Possible To Weld In Space? Surprising facts

Welding has been around for centuries. It’s a substantial part of our everyday lives. Our lives would be very different and, to be honest, quite uninteresting if we didn’t weld. And this brings me to our topic of interest. Is it possible to weld in space?

If humans are to eventually colonize outside of Earth, I think it’s important that we know whether we can weld in space or not.

It is possible to weld in space, but with that in mind, it’s also necessary to understand that welding in space is a lot different from welding on Earth. It boils down to the temperature surrounding the weld parameter. The distribution of materials is quite difficult to control in space, so it’s obvious that welding won’t be child’s play in space.

Welding in space may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Many other factors determine the level of ease with which you’ll be able to weld in space.

Is It Possible To Weld In Space

The absence of gravity will not make things any easier. But certain methods have been found to be effective, and a few tools have been constructed for this specific purpose. So let’s take a look at them first.

Why Do We Need To Weld In Space?

There is no doubt that a lot of work and planning goes into spacecraft construction. This is to make sure that they don’t break down while in space. Given the lack of available resources in outer space, a breakdown would lead to massive problems. But that doesn’t completely diminish the chances of accidents occurring. Welding will thus be in great need.

Space might be a topic of interest and wonder for many. But, it is also a very volatile environment. The chances for things to go wrong and cause major catastrophes are much higher in space than it is on earth.

This is why spacecraft engineering prioritizes build quality and protection. But despite the meticulous planning that goes into spaceship design, we cannot ignore the fact that accidents sometimes happen.

After all, space flight requires humans to ride pillars of fire at exceeding speeds until they can break free from Earth’s life-giving hold.

And if something were to happen to these crafts, let’s say an accident that blows off a few parts, for the astronauts to return, they’d have to repair them. And when such repairs need to be made, the process of welding is heavily in demand. Thus, they must have the ability to perform welding in space.

History Of Welding In Space

The lack of gravity within a spacecraft, as well as the frigid, intimidating expanse of space, make many of the processes we take for granted, such as welding, extremely difficult. This is why it’s always been a struggle to weld in space. 

But where there’s a will, there is certainly a definite way. Cosmonauts have been gathering intel on how to successfully weld in space since the 1960s and they have come a long way since that time.

Russian cosmonauts Georgi Shonin and Valeri Kubasov, who boarded the Soviet Soyuz 6 expedition to space in 1969, became the first to test welding in space, using the Vulkan, a multipurpose instrument. 

Shonin and Kubasov were the very first to encounter the dangers of space repair. The researchers looked at electron beam welding, low-pressure compressed arc welding, and arc welding using a consumable electrode to evaluate how they would perform in a rapid depressurization atmosphere.

During that time, Kubasov’s experiments marked a watershed moment in zero-gravity research. When the meticulously built International Space Station was launched in the 1990s, the requirement for successful welding processes in weightless settings became obvious. 

As a result, the people couldn’t help but be awestruck by how efficiently in-space welding was put to use to repair hulls sustaining damage caused by space debris punctures, as well as re-strengthen components that were subjected to deterioration over time.

Welding Challenges In Space

The majority of NASA’s maintenance and repair work takes place on Earth rather than in space. The goal of NASA’s technological experts is to prevent the need for in-space welding at all costs.

For example, they built spacecraft out of materials like ceramic and aluminum that could sustain long periods of space travel.

This was a way to make sure that even if the spacecraft did take damage, the materials would allow the hit to be on a minimal scale as much as possible. And so, to some extent, it did work.

But the official reason for this strategy was that welding in space is incredibly difficult. The distribution of temperature in the weld pool and the dispersion of molten components as they’re creating the weld, which is difficult to manage in space, determine the structure, composition, and quality of the weld.

And on top of that, gases react differently in zero gravity and airless situations, making welding procedures that rely on carefully balanced shielding gases difficult to control.

Securing welding power supplies is another issue. Handheld and portable generators cool themselves using ambient air, which is not viable in space.

TIG welding, which uses a tungsten electrode to heat the metal that they’re welding, is the go-to technique for repairing pieces of a spaceship. This is because aluminum is the primary metal utilized in space construction.

Nevertheless, the accuracy and precision required for TIG welding would be difficult to accomplish in zero gravity. And there’s also the issue of protection. To protect the weld, electron beam welding requires a vacuum rather than a shielding gas. And this is difficult to accomplish in a spaceship.

Nasa’s Welding Technique

NASA now uses a variety of cutting-edge welding procedures to ensure that spacecraft can withstand the rigors of space travel while enabling certain repairs and fixes to be made in space.

Handheld Laser

NASA created a handheld laser for tiny welding applications, especially in restricted locations. Precision, ability, and maneuverability make it useful. This tool was created to repair pieces of the shuttle engine. But NASA has since licensed it for use in a variety of other industrial operations.

Ultrasonic Stir Welding

Ultrasonic stir welding is a NASA-developed weld method that uses a swirl rod to swirl the pliable opposing surfaces of two metallic alloy components to form the weld joint. An induction coil is used to generate heat. The ultrasonic energy lowers undesired forces, speeds up movement, and reduces stir rod wear.

Friction Stir Welding

Friction stir welding is a method of producing high-strength, defect-free connections by combining frictional heating with forging pressure. To establish a welded joint, a revolving pin tool softens, stirs, and forges a link between two metal plates. NASA has created a brand-new friction stir welding tool design.

The problems posed by the notion of welding in space, as well as the creation of the instruments required to complete this difficult but important activity, have accelerated welding technology development.

Nowadays, you no longer have to worry about repairs in space as methods have been invented and put in place accordingly.


Now that we’ve finally arrived at the end of this article, I hope you’re well-informed on whether is it possible to weld in space. It may not be the easiest of tasks but it is, in fact, thoroughly doable. Let’s just hope that you don’t have to. No one wants accidents to occur on Earth, let alone in space.

Thank you so much for giving this article a read. I hope you have an excellent day filled with wonders and good luck!

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