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Proceedings Paper

Autophagous spacecraft composite materials for orbital propulsion
Author(s): Prakash Joshi; Bernard L. Upschulte; Alan H. Gelb; B. David Green; Dean M. Lester; Ingvar Wallace; W. David Starrett; David W. Marshall
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Paper Abstract

We are developing structural polymer composite materials that can be converted into fuels and combusted with oxidizers for orbital propulsion of spacecraft. We have identified candidate materials and demonstrated sustained combustion with nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) as an oxidizer. To improve reaction chemistry we have evaluated several energetic additives. Detailed material compatibility tests were conducted to identify stable combinations of structural polymer and energetic additives. We have also demonstrated sustained combustion of structural polymeric materials with embedded additives and NTO. In the next phase of research, we plan to investigate hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer. Samples of composites comprising thin metallic facesheets, structural polymer propellant matrix, and metallic mesh reinforcements (that also serve as electrical heaters/igniters for pyrolysis) were fabricated and their mechanical properties were measured. Concept of a spacecraft structural stringer, which also functions as a thruster, was developed using the composite material formulation. Both all solid and hybrid stringer-thruster designs have been developed. Prototype stringer-thrusters will be fabricated and tested in Phase II.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 July 2002
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 4698, Smart Structures and Materials 2002: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies, (9 July 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.475062
Show Author Affiliations
Prakash Joshi, Physical Sciences Inc. (United States)
Bernard L. Upschulte, Physical Sciences Inc. (United States)
Alan H. Gelb, Physical Sciences Inc. (United States)
B. David Green, Physical Sciences Inc. (United States)
Dean M. Lester, Thiokol Propulsion (United States)
Ingvar Wallace, Thiokol Propulsion (United States)
W. David Starrett, Thiokol Propulsion (United States)
David W. Marshall, Textron Systems (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4698:
Smart Structures and Materials 2002: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies
Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan, Editor(s)

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