Developments in elastic memory composite materials for spacecraft deployable structures
Near-term and future spacecraft and satellites will require large ultra-lightweight structures and components that must be efficiently packaged for launch and reliably deployed on orbit. A new material technology called Elastic Memory Composite (EMC) materials, shows promise in meeting these needs. The EMC polymer matrix materials enable a fully cured composite structure or component to be deformed or folded for efficient packaging into a spacecraft or launch vehicle, then regain its original shape with no degradation or loss in mechanical or physical properties. A component using EMC materials is fabricated in its deployed, on orbit shape using conventional composite manufacturing processes. Then by heating the material and applying force this fully cured composite material can be folded or deformed for packaging. When cooled, it will retain the packaged shape indefinitely. When reheated the structure will regain its original shape with little or no external force. This packaging/deployment cycle is rev ersible. This paper reviews new developments in EMC materials technology including material properties, analytical and designs tools, testing and evaluation protocols, and new applications.
Tupper, M; Munshi, N; Beavers, F; Meink, T; Gall, K; Mikulas, M
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