That is the question a recent investigation on the International Space Station examined. The astronauts performed cement solidification in microgravity to see how it turned out.
“On missions to the Moon and Mars, humans and equipment will need to be protected from extreme temperatures and radiation, and the only way to do that is by building infrastructures on these extraterrestrial environments,” said principal investigator Aleksandra Radlinska of Pennsylvania State University. “One idea is building with a concrete-like material in space. Concrete is very sturdy and provides better protection than many materials.”
The project was called Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) and it saw researchers mix tricalcium silicate (C3S) and water outside of Earth’s gravity for the first time. MICS investigated whether solidifying cement in microgravity would result in unique microstructures.
It also provided the first comparison of cement samples processed on the ground and in microgravity. Scientists know pretty much all there is to know about concrete on Earth, but do not yet know what happens to the material in space.