THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF POLYMER COMPOSITE MATERIALS (PCM)
UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH AND STIFFNESS AT LOW WEIGHT
ACTUAL FOR SPACE
However, along with this, polymeric composite materials have problems associated with resistance to various impact factors.
Factors of influence that negatively affect polymer composite materials:
Deep vacuum. Water absorbed on the Earth, as well as other volatile components, begin to gradually leave the polymer composite materials into outer space, or worse, to sensitive optical elements of the equipment (due to electrostatic interaction), leaving behind micropores-stress concentrators-development centers for microcracks.
Cyclic temperature changes and radiation. On near-earth orbit where temperature drops to ─160°C and rise to + 160°C, as well as from exposure to radiation, unprotected structures of spacecraft made of polymer composite materials begin to form microcracks that increase with time.
All this leads to a deterioration in performance of precision structures (for example, in case of degradation of reflectors of spacecraft antennas and their supporting trusses or telescope tubes, the signal is defocused, sensitivity and resolution are reduced), and the service life of the spacecraft in orbit is greatly reduced.
Using developed in the middle of the last century and currently used on Russian space vehicles, polymeric composite materials based on epoxy binders does not allow to create a new-generation constructions.
The problem and the task of developing
a radiation-and crack-resistant binders for PCM remain relevant!