Thermoplastic matrix composites for Space Solar Power Truss (SSP)


Thermoplastic matrix composites with a low glass transition temperature (Tg) have been developed for the Space Solar Power Truss (SSP). In this application, the truss is folded and packaged for launch, then expanded and deployed in space using a heat source. The present paper describes a resin film infusion process (RFI) used to fabricate laboratory-scale laminate tubes consisting of polyurethane and plain weave carbon fabrics. Subscale (1:5) sample tubes were formed to approximate the real tubes. The performance of the folded and unfolded tubes was measured under compression loading and compared with as-fabricated tubes at 25 and -75°C. Results show that elastic modulus was restored and even increased after bending. Stitched samples were also examined to evaluate the potential for reducing delamination at folds.

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Support from L’Garde Inc. is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also acknowledge and thank Dr. Hongbin Lu and Zhenlun Song for helpful suggestions.

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Correspondence to Hao Zhang.

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Zhang, H., Guidanean, K. & Nutt, S. Thermoplastic matrix composites for Space Solar Power Truss (SSP). MRS Online Proceedings Library 851, 281–289 (2004).

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  • Sub-Tg
  • Thermoplastic matrix composites
  • compressive properties
  • RFI
  • Folding
  • stitching