Welding in Space

For the tradesperson accustomed to working on earth, welding in outer space presents its own obvious challenges. First of all, there’s no gravity. Then, it’s a vacuum out there! Forget hauling along a tank of your favorite welding gas – never mind the added weight, the gas wouldn’t pressurize properly out there in space.


The team of Russian cosmonauts that first attempted arc welding in space nearly burned right through their ship’s hull, and just narrowly avoided bursting through to the void. The crew aboard the Soyuz 6 spacecraft brought along a Vulkan Welding Unit, which had a three-in-one supply of welding methods. So they also managed to test electron beam welding, which was a new method of welding that required a vacuum instead of a shielding gas such as the traditional argon gas. Using this new approach, they were able to form titanium welds as high-quality as any weld back home on earth.


Today lasers make the preferred way of joining metals in space. NASA has pioneered these new techniques meant to allow space-folk to repair space stations and equipment. The laser welding torch was designed specifically to help astronauts make on-the-fly repairs to components that propel the space shuttle engine. As isoften the case with space-age technology, it eventually filters down to become available the common person. You can now have your very own space-age welder: the variable power laser handheld torch for commercial applications on-planet.


About the size of a large pencil, NASA’s welding laser is a top-flight piece of welding equipment. We expect to see more fine-tuned uses of this tiny welding machine as technology improves in the welding supplies that are available to commercial welders in the construction and mechanical trades, too. Since these kinds of laser welders can cost in the six figures, why not call the friendly experts at the Sidney Lee Welding Supply store nearest you to find practical and affordable welding supplies in Atlanta, Georgia.