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The capacity of a material to maintain reasonable properties for an appropriate time in a hostile environment is frequently of greater concern than the basic properties in the selection of rocket and space-vehicle materials. Of prime importance in the selection of materials, particularly organic materials, for a nuclear-powered rocket is the resistance of the materials to vacuum and radiation simultaneously. This paper deals with the state of knowledge of the resistance of engineering materials to vacuum, radiation, and to radiation plus vacuum. Emphasis throughout the paper is on vehicle and reactor accessory hardware rather than on reactor materials. Selected data obtained from an investigation of the combined effects of reactor radiation and vacuum on organic engineering materials are discussed. The data include results of mechanical tests before and after irradiation. The test specimens are representative specimens of thermal insulation, potting compounds, structural laminates, structural adhesives, thermal control coatings, dielectric materials, seals, and lubricants.
Lucas, William R.
Chief, Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory, George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.