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Materials and structures technology insertion into spacecraft systems: Successes and challenges

ABSTRACT

Publication date: May 2018 Source:Acta Astronautica, Volume 146 Author(s): Suraj Rawal

Over the last 30 years, significant advancements have led to the use of multifunctional materials and structures technologies in spacecraft systems. This includes the integration of adaptive structures, advanced composites, nanotechnology, and additive manufacturing technologies. Development of multifunctional structures has been directly influenced by the implementation of processes and tools for adaptive structures pioneered by Prof. Paolo Santini. Multifunctional materials and structures incorporating non-structural engineering functions such as thermal, electrical, radiation shielding, power, and sensors have been investigated. The result has been an integrated structure that offers reduced mass, packaging volume, and ease of integration for spacecraft systems. Current technology development efforts are being conducted to develop innovative multifunctional materials and structures designs incorporating advanced composites, nanotechnology, and additive manufacturing. However, these efforts offer significant challenges in the qualification and acceptance into spacecraft systems. This paper presents a brief overview of the technology development and successful insertion of advanced material technologies into spacecraft structures. Finally, opportunities and challenges to develop and mature next generation advanced materials and structures are presented.