The Benefits of Composites for Space Travel

Posted: Oct 31, 2017

Today, deep-space observatories, cryogenic tanks, and launch vehicles all contain composites. Tomorrow, composites will carry humans into deep space. Composites are made up of two or more different materials combined to make a unique material, and a marriage of three characteristics: strength, stability, and mass. These composite materials allow manufacturers to create highly optimized structures that support successful space missions.

Weight and cost-savings are critical for the space industry. Materials that can withstand the harsh conditions of space along with lightening the load for the long journey are essential. Because composites are lightweight and strong, they offer substantial cost savings for space craft manufacturers.

Composites are also resistant to corrosion which minimizes costly downtime for maintenance interventions. They boast high damage tolerance to improve accident survivability, which is especially critical in space travel, where even the tiniest of breaches can have devastating consequences. Furthermore, composites do not experience excessive contraction or expansion as the result of temperature changes and therefore provide exceptional thermal stability.

The space industry uses three main types of composite materials: glass, carbon fiber, and aramid- reinforced epoxy. There are others, such as boron-reinforced composites, but these are not as widely used. The use of these composite materials will continue to grow within the Space Industry in the years to come. Supported by the regular introduction of new and innovative composite materials, their use in space crafts will offer improved safety and performance while reducing manufacturing and maintenance costs.

Wisconsin Oven designs and manufactures high performance composite curing ovens that meet the stringent criteria required to ensure the optimal composite cure.  Visit our website to learn about our composite curing technology and stay tuned next month for a deeper look into the growth of composite material in the space industry.