Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Project:”Large-size antenna dish, shield and frame of space station by the way of polymerization of composite material on Earth orbit in free space environment

The main goal of the project is the development of the polymerization processes of polymer composite materials in free space environment and the creation the technology for large-size constructions on Earth orbit.

The size and mass of modern space constructions (antenna, space satellite, space station or space base) sent to the Earth orbit are limited by possibility of a launch vehicle. The large-size construction can be created by the use of the technology of the polymerization of fibers-filled composites and a reactionable matrix applied in free space or on the other space body when the space construction will be working during a long period of time. For example, the fabric impregnated with a long-life matrix (prepreg) is prepared in terrestrial conditions and, after folding, can be shipped in a container to orbit and kept folded on board the station. In due time the prepreg is carried out into free space and unfolded by inflating. Then a reaction of matrix polymerization initiates. After that, the artificial frame can be fitted out with the apparatus or used for any applications.

In this case, there is no limitation for size and form of the space construction, there is no necessity for some launch vehicles for the creation of high-size space construction.

However, conditions of free space have a destructive influence on polymer materials and especially for uncured polymer matrix of composite. In the free space the material is treated by high vacuum, sharp temperature changes, plasma of free space formed by space rays, sun irradiation and atomic oxygen (on low Earth orbit), micrometeorite fluency, electric charging and microgravitation. Our preliminary studies of polymerization process in high vacuum, space plasma and temperature variations showed that the polymerization process is available in free space under space factors and the composite cured in simulated free space environment has satisfied mechanical properties.

The present project includes:
- Investigation of the polymerization process and structure of selected composite material in simulated space environment;
- Test of polymerization of selected composite material during space flight;
- Development of large-size mirrors, antennas (some km diameter) and frame of space construction (for example, cylinder of 100 length and 10 m diameter) on Earth orbit by way of curing of polymer composite materials in free space.

Dr. Alexey Kondyurin

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