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Proceedings Paper

Multicomponent composites and their application in replica mirrors for lightweight space-based optics
Author(s): Stephen D. Vining; Patrick J. Hood
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Paper Abstract

Research and development in multi-component composites demonstrated new material and fabrication concepts for mirrors for space-based optics. Cornerstone Research Group, Inc., effort, conducted under contract to the Air Force Research Laboratory, developed new organic and inorganic composite materials and investigated their potential for application as light-weight, low-cost alternatives mitigating the drawbacks of conventional materials (glass and metals) and fabrication processes for space-based mirrors. This development demonstrated the feasibility of multi-component organic composites integrating cyanate ester resin with several reinforcements, especially carbon fabric and nanofibers. It demonstrated feasibility of high-quality cyanate ester-based syntactic composite (structural foam composed of microspheres embedded in resin). The development also demonstrated initial feasibility of multi-component inorganic composites integrating a proprietary inorganic resin with particulate and nanofiber reinforcements. These new materials (both organic and inorganic composites) show strong potential for achieving major reduction in mirror areal density (compared with current operational mirrors) while achieving strength, stiffness, and thermal properties required for space applications. Finally, this project demonstrated feasibility of a replication approach to mirror fabrication. With this fabrication technology, a composite mirror is cast directly to net figure and finish. This dramatically simplifies the mirror fabrication process, thereby enabling less expensive tooling than conventional practice for glass or metal mirrors. In production lots of identical mirrors (e.g., spacecraft constellations), the replication approach will provide radical reduction in mirror costs by eliminating the lengthy, expensive grinding and polishing processes for individual units.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 January 2004
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5166, UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts, (30 January 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.504641
Show Author Affiliations
Stephen D. Vining, Cornerstone Research Group, Inc. (United States)
Patrick J. Hood, Cornerstone Research Group, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5166:
UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts
Howard A. MacEwen, Editor(s)

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