The idea of the direct curing in space environment came to me about 18 years ago. At that time, I was not sure, if it was done or it is impossible. All these years have been spent to get clear answer: yes, it is possible, but no, it is not done.
I met these two comments as reaction on my presentations and publications. People, who are far from space business, say, “it is done, and even ISS is done by this way!” People, who work in space industry, say, “this is impossible, but I do not know why?” All of these comments are not true.
During these years, I was carrying out a number of investigations, including experiments and theoretical calculations. Part of the results have been published and presented on conferences in different auditoriums and countries.
First time, a general way of direct curing was discussed in Russian journal “Plastic mass” (1997, No.8) and republished in English in “International Polymer Science and Technology”: Kondyurin A.V., Building the shells of large space stations by the polymerisation of epoxy composites in open space, Int. Polymer Sci. and Technol., v.25, N4, 1998, p. 78-80.
After that the further results have been published in a number of journals:
Kondyurin A., G.Mesyats, Yu.Klyachkin, Creation of High-Size Space Station by Polymerisation of Composite Materials in Free Space, J. of the Japan Soc. of Microgravity Appl., v.15, Suppl.II, 1998, p.61-65.
Kondyurin A., Kostarev K., Bagara M.V., Polymerization processes of epoxy plastic in free space conditions, Paper IAF-99-I.5.04, 50th International Astronautical Congress 4-8- Oct., 1999, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Briskman V., A.Kondyurin, K.Kostarev, V.Leontyev, M.Levkovich, A.Mashinsky, G.Nechitailo, T.Yudina, Polymerization in microgravity as a new process in space technology, Paper № IAA-97-IAA.12.1.07, 48th International Astronautical Congress, October 6-10, 1997, Turin Italy
Kondyurin A., High-size space laboratory for biological orbit experiments, Advanced space research, v.28, N4, 2001, pp.665-671
Kondyurin A., Kostarev K., Bagara M., Polymerization processes of epoxy plastic in simulated free space conditions, Acta Astronautica, vol.48, N2-3, 2001, pp.109-113
Briskman V.A., Yudina T.M., Kostarev K.G., Kondyurin A.V., Leontyev V.B., Levkovich M.G., Mashinsky A.L., Nechitailo G.S., Polymerization in microgravity as a new process in space technology, Acta Astronautica, vol.48, N2-3, 2001, pp.169-180.
Kondyurin A., Lauke B., Polymerisation processes in simulated free space conditions, Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Materials in a Space Environment, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 16-20 June, 2003, ESA SP-540, September 2003, pp.75-80
Kondyurin A., B. Lauke, I. Kondyurina and E. Orba, Creation of biological module for self-regulating ecological system by the way of polymerization of composite materials in free space, Advances in Space Research, 2004, v. 34/7, p. 1585-1591.
Kondyurin A., B.Lauke, E.Richter: Polymerization Process of Epoxy Matrix Composites under Simulated Free Space Conditions, High Performance Polymers. 16, 2004, p. 163 – 175.
Kondyurin A., B.Lauke: Curing of liquid epoxy resin in plasma discharge, European Polymer Journal. 40/8, 2004, p. 1915 – 1923.
Kondyurin A., B. Lauke, R. Vogel, Photopolymerisation of composite material in simulated free space environment at low Earth orbital flight, European Polymer Journal 42 (2006) 2703–2714.
Kondyurina I., A. Kondyurin, B. Lauke, L. Figiel, R. Vogel, U. Reuter, Polymerisation of composite materials in space environment for development of a Moon base, Advances in space research, 37, 2006, p.109-115.
A. Kondyurin, B. Lauke, R. Vogel, G. Nechitailo, Kinetics of photocuring of matrix of composite material under simulated conditions of free space, Plasticheskie massi, 2007, v.11, pp.50-55.
A.V.Kondyurin, G.S.Nechitailo, Composite material for Inflatable Structures Photocured under Space Flight Conditions, Cosmonautics and rockets, 3 (56), 182-190, 2009.
A.V.Kondyurin, L.A.Komar, A.L.Svistkov, Modelling of curing of composite materials for the inflatable structure of a lunar space base, Journal on Composite Mechanics and Design, 15 (4), 512-526, 2009.
A.V.Kondyurin, L.A.Komar, A.L.Svistkov, Modelling of curing reaction kinetics in composite material based on epoxy matrix, Journal on Composite Mechanics and Design, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 597-611, 2010.
A. Kondyurin, M. Bilek, Etching and structure transformations in uncured epoxy resin under rf-plasma and plasma immersion ion implantation, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, B 268, 1568–1580, 2010.
A. Kondyurin, Direct Curing of Polymer Construction Material in Simulated Earth’s Moon Surface Environment, Journal of spacecraft and rockets, V. 48, No. 2, pp.378-384, 2011.
A.V.Kondyurin, L.A.Komar, L.A. Svistkov, Modeling of the kinetics of the curing reaction of the epoxy binder-based composite material, Nanomechanics science and technology: An international journal, vol.2, issue 2, 167-183, 2011.
A. Kondyurin, L.A. Komar, A.L. Svistkov, Combinatory model of curing process in epoxy composite, Composites, part B, 43, 616–620, 2012.
In my two books:
A. Kondyurin, Curing of composite materials for an inflatable construction on the Moon, chapter in “Moon. Prospective Energy and Material Resources”, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2012, p. 503-518.
A. Kondyurin, M. Bilek, Ion Beam Treatment of Polymers. Application aspects from medicine to space, Elsevier, Oxford, 2008
In Cornell University Arxiv.org site:
A. Kondyurin, I. Kondyurina, M. Bilek, Composite materials with uncured epoxy matrix exposed in stratosphere during NASA stratospheric balloon flight, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1008.5236
A. Kondyurin, I. Kondyurina, M. Bilek, Radiation damage of polyethylene exposed in the stratosphere at an altitude of 40 km, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1109.5457v1
The recent experiment has been done on the curing in stratosphere. First time, it was shown, that cosmic rays play role of additional hardener for the polymer. Space makes polymer harder. This real flight experiment supported previous laboratory investigations and made me sure, that it will work in real space flight.
If you are interested in and do not have subscription for these journals, please, ask me, I will send you a copy.