Journal Published Online: 01 July 1984
Volume 6, Issue 2

Influence of a Simulated Space Environment on the Behavior of Carbon-Fiber-Reinforced Plastics with ±45° Ply Orientations—Part 1



The growing dimensions of spacecraft foreseen for the future pose new challenges concerning mass, dynamic behavior, dimensional stability, and reliability. Because of their attractive structural properties, graphite/epoxy or graphite/polymide composites are the prime material candidates for such applications. Besides their specific strength and stiffness properties, they offer low coefficients of thermal expansion so that deformations of the structures under temperature exposure can be held to a minimum. However, on the microscopic level, the large differences in thermal-expansion coefficients between the resins and the fibers lead to thermally induced stresses of substantial magnitude when the material undergoes thermal cycling as a consequence of sun and shadow phases in an earth orbit. The corresponding upper and lower temperature limits depend on the surface coating of the structure and on the attitude angle relative to the sun. They may range from −160°C in deep shadow to +100°C and even more when exposed to the sun. Depending on orbit height, inclination, and service time, 3000 to 5000 thermal cycles may occur during the life of a typical vehicle and thereby introduce thermal fatigue problems in the material. Additionally, electromagnetic and particle irradiation may degrade the properties of the organic matrix.

Author Information

Hartung, W
Institut fur Strukturmechanik, Braunschweig, West Germany
Bergmann, HW
Institut fur Strukturmechanik, Braunschweig, West Germany
Pages: 9
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: CTR10821J
ISSN: 0884-6804
DOI: 10.1520/CTR10821J