NanoMatSpace - Nano-Composites and High-Performance Materials for Space
Why do space projects require new materials? On the one side, there is a continuous need for further improvement of structural composite materials. Extreme lightweight construction is mandatory. Furthermore, such structures have to be designed in accordance to outmost dimensional stability and thermoelastic stability requirements for many applications. On the other side, advanced functional materials are also needed.
In particular, designers of space mechanisms look for new materials showing enhanced properties – for example, for the construction of high- grade long-life bearings that are exposed to the harsh environment of space dominated by large temperature variations and high radiation densities. One main part of the study NanoMatSpace presents typical applications for space transportation, satellites, platforms and instruments, which require enhanced materials with improved properties to meet requirement specifications.
The other main part of the study concentrates on evaluating and assessing the actual status of material technology in Austria in close cooperation with national institutes and industry. As the result of a comprehensive investigation, a number of promising material technologies were identified as already being established in Austria, which imply a strong potential for further development of "space materials" for application in future space programmes.
The essential outcome of the study NanoMatSpace was that amongst the prospering material technologies established in Austria, one of them, namely the polymer composite technology, has reached a high level of know-how and infrastructure and would therefore provide an excellent basis for further development of advanced (nano-modified) polymer composites.
The following evaluation criteria were applied for the selection of the most favourable material technologies for space application:
- Specific experience and know-how in the special technology area looked at
- Opportunity of application in near-term European space projects
- Existence of technological infrastructure including quality control measures to establish process modifications, avoiding large economical investments for installation of new process routes
- Easy access to raw materials, avoiding import limitations and single sources of delivery
- Diversification potential of Austrian material technology to other non-space industrial applications and its significance to national economy and its expansion The results of the study “NanoMatSpace” were also presented to ESA in the frame of an invited presentation on technological capabilities in Austria in the autumn of 2008.
Recently, a selected consortium of industry and research has been joined to bid for a follow-up project in the frame of the Austrian ASAP 7 programme. Objectives of the project entitled "Advanced Composite Technologies for Extreme Light-Weight Space Structures, ACTRESS", which has been accepted for funding, are to demonstrate Austrian capabilities for the whole process chain for advanced composite technologies at a high technology maturity level.
Space Technology Consultancy Vienna - Hans Georg Wulz