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Proceedings Paper

Preventing damaging pressure gradients at the walls of an inflatable space system
Author(s): John J. Scialdone
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Paper Abstract

An inflatable structural system to deploy a space system such as a solar shield, an antenna or another similar instrument, requires a stiffening element after it is extended by the inflated gas pressure. The stiffening element has to be packaged in a folded configuration before the deployment. It must be relatively small, lightweight, non-damaging to the inflated system, and be able to become stiff in a short time. One stiffening method is to use a flexible material inserted in the deployable system, which, upon a temperature curing, can become stiff and is capable of supporting the entire structure. There are two conditions during the space operations when the inflated volume could be damaged: during the transonic region of the launch phase and when the curing of the rigidizing element occurs. In both cases, an excess of pressure within the volume containing the rigid element could burst the walls of the low-pressure gas inflated portion of the system. This paper investigates these two conditions and indicates the vents, which will prevent those damaging overpressures. Vent openings at the non-inflated volumes have been calculated for the conditions existing during the launch. Those vents allow the initially folded volume to exhaust the trapped atmospheric gas at approximately the same rate as the ambient pressure drops. That will prevent pressure gradients across the container walls which otherwise could be as high as 14.7 psi. The other condition occurring during the curling of the stiffening element has been investigated. This has required the testing of the element to obtain the gas generation during the curing and the transformation from a pliable material to a rigid one. The tested material is a composite graphite/epoxy weave. The outgassing of the uncured sample at 121$DEGC was carried with the Cahn Microbalance and with other outgassing facilities, including the micro-CVCM ASTM E-595 facility. The tests provided the mass of gas evolved during the test. That data, including the chemical nature of the evoloved gas, provided the data for the calculation of the pressure produced within the volume. The evaluation of the areas of the vents that would prevent excessive pressures and provide a rapid release of the gas away from contamination sensitive surfaces has been carried out. The pressure decay with time has been indicated.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 September 2000
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 4096, Optical Systems Contamination and Degradation II: Effects, Measurements, and Control, (20 September 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.400839
Show Author Affiliations
John J. Scialdone, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4096:
Optical Systems Contamination and Degradation II: Effects, Measurements, and Control
Philip T. C. Chen; O. Manuel Uy, Editor(s)

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