Launching satellites into space creates the ultimate performance challenge for composite materials.In addition to the crucial weight savings, the materials also have to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations. The performance requirements can be accommodated by Hexcel’s wide range of matrix systems.
The unique environment of outer space places rigorous demands on the materials used for construction of military and commercial satellites. Severe temperature changes can cause ordinary materials to warp, expand, or contract depending on temperature; however, satellites are subject to relatively little risk from collision damage.
HexPly® M18 is used widely in Europe and is a 180°C (350°F) curing epoxy system operating at temperatures up to 170°C (340°F) and with 30 days outlife at room temperature.The system provides outstanding low moisture absorption and high strain to failure. Combinations of M18 resins with ultra-high modulus PAN-based HexTow®HM63 (UD or very light-weight PrimeTex® fabrics) provide improved dimensional stability and structural performance for demanding applications.
The HexPly® 954 familyof 350° F-curing toughened cyanate resin prepregs is selected by designers and fabricators of space hardware for the low moisture absorption that improves dimensional stability and outgassing performance when compared to epoxies. Inherent toughness and micro-cracking resistance, high temperature dry and wetservice, lower dielectric constants, and better radiation resistance are other performance advantages for space, radium, and structural applications.Combinations of 954 resins with ultra-high modulus pitch-and PAN-based graphite fibers provide improved dimensional stability and structural performance for demanding NASA applications.
Hexcel’s HexAM™ additive manufacturing is an excellent solution for space applications. With low outgassing properties, no need for welding or forging, the ability to sustain temperatures of +/- 300°C, HexPEKK™ 3D printed parts are well suited for satellites and space transport. The HexAM™ additive manufacturing process has been qualified for space applications and over 600 HexPEKK™ parts are being used on the Boeing Starliner Space Taxi.