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Performance Evaluation of Selected Irradiated Space Structure Composites Manufactured by the Hand Lay-Up Method

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Polymeric composites are widely used in manufacturing the space structures because of their superior light weight compared with either the metallic ferrous or non-ferrous materials. These materials should secure high strength to weight ratio and reasonable thermal and/or optical properties. In this work, the selected polymeric matrix composites reinforced with three different types of fibers, namely, carbon, fiberglass, and Kevlar were manufactured with the low-cost hand lay-up method. These samples were irradiated with different doses of γ-rays. These prescribed doses were chosen to simulate the charged particles space hazards in a well-defined orbit for 3.75, 5.625, and 7.5 years. Gases trapped during the manufacturing process were extracted and analyzed using the vacuum simulator facility at relatively high temperature to evaluate their effect on the optical surfaces. Mechanical properties variation of the irradiated composites was traced by tensile testing and correlated to the variation of their constituents’ molecular structure which was analyzed by the Fourier Transformation Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Thermal stability of the irradiated composites constituents, with the previously prescribed doses, was monitored at a wide range of temperatures.
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Hand Lay-Up; Composite; Space Environment; Gamma Irradiation

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