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In a study of T300/934 graphite/epoxy composite, which forms the composite skin of the space shuttle cargo bay doors, the following composite properties were investigated as a function of increasing gamma-radiation exposure dosages: directional moisture absorption/desorption kinetics, glass transition temperatures, interlaminar shear strength and damping peaks (tan δ). Irradiation conditions were: open to atmosphere and vacuum, ambient and high temperature (100°C).
Four dosage levels were investigated: 4 × 107, 8 × 107, 1.4 × 108, and 3.2 × 108 rads, the final dosage level being equivalent to a three-year orbit life. Directional moisture diffusion studies indicate anomalies in the three diffusing axes (translaminar, transfibrous, and interlaminar). Interlaminar shear strengths showed an initial increase, followed by a decrease, as the dosages increased. Although the glass transition temperatures remained essentially unchanged, the peak heights of the tan δ measurements also showed an initial increase, and then decreased as radiation dosages increased.
space environments, gamma radiation, moisture diffusion, dynamic properties, interlaminar shear strength, composites
Technical staff member, Rockwell International,