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Materials for space applications?

  1. Apr 16, 2018 #1
    So I'm working on this project for a inflatable solar sail (so a spherical solar sail) and we are really only verifying the deployment of the sail in space (from a cubesat)....We are doing a mock PDR and I need to find info on the sail we'll be using. My job is to find an "off the shelf" inflatable balloon that can be used in space. Traditionally, Mylar is used for solar sails. I'm having trouble finding a suitable product. Know of anywhere or a helpful search tool for some type of balloon that can withstand space???
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2018 #2
    If I want to inflate a balloon in space, what materials should I be looking for as the balloon? My requirement is I use a cool gas generator for inflation...so I just need help finding an "off the shelf" inflatable balloon (don't worry that it needs a CGG) that is strong enough for space
  4. Apr 16, 2018 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    There's no such animal as "strong enough for space". What it needs is to be strong enough to support the gas pressure inside it.
  5. Apr 16, 2018 #4


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    Gold Member

    One thing you need to worry about is thermal considerations. VERY hot on the side facing the sun and VERY cold on the other side. You need something that dosn't melt or get too brittle.
  6. Apr 16, 2018 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Hmmm, I presume you mean aluminized mylar to give it a mirror finish. Your challenge is to find material strong enough to hold up, but with as little mass as possible so that it can be big when inflated.

    Before shopping, you should decide on some specifications for "suitable"

    What is the required tensile strength? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_tensile_strength

    What is the required mass per unit area?

    Without those specifications, each and every mylar film is "suitable"

    Your project also reminds me of Project Echo: It made a very spectacular show up in the sky. Later, France proposed a ring-shaped mylar satellite as a work of art. It would be so big, it would appear larger than the Moon as seen from Earth. Alas, that project was cancelled.
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