2 American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics
potential for controlled rigidization of inflatable structures
. This work extendsthe prior photocurable work to sunlightcure of Gossamer spacecraft.
A comprehensive review of the state of the art in inflatable spacecraft is given inRefs. 2-16. The most important objectivefor large spacecraft is mass reduction andpacking efficiency and the most promisingoption is the use of inflatable systems.The development of isogridreinforcements for inflatable tubes hasshifted the emphasis from low-masssystems to packaging efficiency forGossamer structures. The overall intentof inflatable spacecraft is to balance thefollowing properties:
small payload volume
ease of fabrication
good dimensional stability
good dynamic characteristics
long storage life
low cost.Inflatables deploy and function well inspace where the absence of gravity resultsin very low loads. High accuracy may bemaintained by the constant force providedby the inflatant or, preferably, bypredictable rigidization of the structuralcomponents. Current techniques offersome novel approaches for rigidization of inflatable spacecraft, but they also comewith some significant disadvantagesincluding large power consumption, poorstability, and large amounts of outgassing.
The Rigidization on Command
The many approaches to rigidizationconsidered over the past decade and theirproblems or disadvantages are discussedin Ref. 1. The potential for the ROCconcept is also discussed in Ref. 1. TheROC concept uses composites fabricatedwith cationic photocurable epoxy matrixresins and offers the followingadvantages:
High cure strength (unlikeexpanded aluminum)
Low outgassing (solvent and waterfree, unlike gelatins)
No temperature dependence (cureas low as –20°C)
“Living polymer” (guaranteedcure/extra margin)
Low shrinkage (unlike gelatins)
No complex elastomer/fabricinteractions
Indefinite storage life.Inflatable spacecraft constructed withROC resin systems require only sufficientinflation gas for space deployment andare rigidized only when required with theuse of UV light. Similar resins can beused for sunlight cure of Gossamerspacecraft.For the structures noted in the EarthScience interest area (solar sails,antennas, etc.), lightly loaded memberswill be realized, thus emphasizing theisogrid approach as compared to otherstructural concepts. A relative mass vsloading comparison for various structuralmember concepts, inflatable andmechanical, shows that the isogridconstruction is one of the most efficient.