Automobili Lamborghini is set to be the first supercar manufacturer to get the opportunity of working on aerospace technologies. Houston Methodist Research Institute and the Italian supercar maker will conduct research on advanced carbon fibre composite materials on the ISS.

On 2nd November 2019, a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA, to the International Space Station. It will carry with it a series of sample composite materials manufactured by Lamborghini. The launch is part of a testing campaign sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, and supervised by the HMRI.

The aim is to analyse the response of five different composite materials produced by Lamborghini to the extreme stresses induced by the space environment. The program also takes into account the future use of materials in the medical field, and of course, new cars from Sant’Agata Bolognese.

The mission takes place two years after the agreement signed by Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, and Mauro Ferrari, then President and CEO of HMRI, currently working as President of the European Research Council.

“We are very proud. Lamborghini is breaking ground as the first automaker in the world to conduct carbon fibre materials science research on the ISS. In addition to representing an important example of corporate social responsibility, this mission is also fully in line with our philosophy and values. Lamborghini is a brand that has always been committed to going beyond limits in every area of its activity and to being a pioneer in the realm of technology,” says Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini.

Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO, Automobili Lamborghini.

With this agreement, a joint research project was initiated to study the biocompatibility of the composite materials to determine their potential application in prosthetic implants and subcutaneous devices. The research takes advantage of their particular properties of light weight, radio transparency, and radio compatibility.

Stefano Domenicali said, “We are very proud. Lamborghini is breaking ground as the first automaker in the world to conduct carbon fibre materials science research on the ISS. In addition to representing an important example of corporate social responsibility, this mission is also fully in line with our philosophy and values. Lamborghini is a brand that has always been committed to going beyond limits in every area of its activity and to being a pioneer in the realm of technology.”

Focus of the research project

The five samples of carbon fibre leverage some of the most cutting-edge technologies currently available. Lamborghini has applied all of its extensive knowledge in the properties and strengths of carbon fibre. The firm has a dedicated facility for research and development of the material at its Composites Development Centre and ACLSD (Advanced Composites and Lightweight Structures Development) laboratory located at the company headquarters.

Lamborghini has earned worldwide recognition for its stellar research into the application of carbon fibre for advanced automotive technologies.

Lamborghini also owns an advanced 3D printing continuous-fibre composite technology. Using this piece of hardware, it is possible to combine the extreme flexibility of “additive manufacturing” with high-level mechanical performance, equalling that of a good quality aluminium for structural duties.

The materials will be onboard the ISS for six months where they will be subjected to thermal excursion cycles ranging from -40 to 200 degrees centigrade. The ISS team will also expose the materials to massive doses of UV radiation, gamma rays, and the flow of atomic oxygen caused by ionisation.

Samples returned to Earth at the end of the mission will undergo joint testing by Automobili Lamborghini and HMRI to evaluate the qualitative degradation in chemical, physical, and mechanical attributes. The data thus obtained will be instrumental in shaping future Lamborghini cars.