What outer structural materials are suitable for high altitude?

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

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Hello , I am researching some material science and looking for suitable structural materials for high altitude , low level orbit flight .

Would a carbon structure be suitable or would there be pressure problems that cause structural collapse ?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
berkeman
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Welcome to the PF. :smile:

Probably the materials that are used in things like the Space Shuttle, low-orbit satellites, etc. Have you done much reading about them yet? If so, what kind of materials do they use?
 
  • #3
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Welcome to the PF. :smile:

Probably the materials that are used in things like the Space Shuttle, low-orbit satellites, etc. Have you done much reading about them yet? If so, what kind of materials do they use?
Thank you for your reply

Google search

aluminum

A rocket must withstand the strong forces during launch and be as light as possible. For the main frame most rockets use aerospace grade aluminum or titanium since both metals are very strong but light weight. Future rocket designs are even looking into using carbon composite structures.22 May 2017

I considered carbon myself as it is a light weight material but I am unsure of what sort of stress may be put on the material when in low level orbit / space flight .
I am assuming that any stress would be the opposite of centripetal pressure and more towards an expansion pressure ?
 
  • #4
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This does not sound like homework, so I moved it to a better forum.

You ask about expansion. Do you mean that this might be a pressurized container?

I think we need more information about what you are trying to accomplish before we can answer. If you look at the videos of the ISS, you can see many dozens of materials in orbit.
 
  • #5
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This does not sound like homework, so I moved it to a better forum.

You ask about expansion. Do you mean that this might be a pressurized container?

I think we need more information about what you are trying to accomplish before we can answer. If you look at the videos of the ISS, you can see many dozens of materials in orbit.
Yes ! The craft will be a pressurized craft , the interior suitable for life support .
 
  • #6
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Either you are writing a SciFi story, or you are a NASA employee. Which?
 
  • #7
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Either you are writing a SciFi story, or you are a NASA employee. Which?
Neither , I am presently an inventor and designer whom is presently considering a craft that can fly in low level orbit as an airplane would in the atmosphere . I am presently considering mechanical stress on materials and the construction . Constructing a craft within an atmosphere , is constructed under air pressure . I am concerned that the pressured construction may experience ''centrifuge'' stress tensors when entering low level orbit , the air pressure being removed .
 
  • #8
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Aluminum is traditional in aircraft design. But composite materials including carbon fiber are used on modern aircraft. Composites have a high strength to weight ratio.

I don't think there's much difference between an airplane and low orbit craft. Consider stress due to pressure differences. Consider temperature extremes. Consider launch/retrieval. Consider vibration and fatigue for long lifetime. Consider flexibility. Consider manufacturing methods.

If there are no air voids in the material, then there is little problem with those voids expanding when outside pressure is reduced. Off gassing could ruin that. Even aluminum sheets are created under air pressure.

I'm sure NASA must have data on composite materials in space. In the ISS or James Webb Space Telescope for example.
 
  • #9
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Aluminum is traditional in aircraft design. But composite materials including carbon fiber are used on modern

I'm sure NASA must have data on composite materials in space. In the ISS or James Webb Space Telescope for example.
I'm sure NASA would have that specific information although some of it may be classified !

I am personally considering a mixture of materials , accounting for the propulsion system etc . My design will be able to enter low level orbit , the craft and the occupants of the craft experiencing almost 0 g-force stress ,
 
  • #10
Tom.G
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From NASA: Shuttle launch 3g
(https://spaceflight.nasa.gov/feedback/expert/answer/crew/sts-92/index.html)

Third-party report about Soyuz: Normal re-entry= 4.5g. Emergency re-entry= 6 to 7g
(https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/astronauts-emergency-descent-was-harrowing-high-g-ordeal-ncna919246)

Maximum for survival = 25g, if wearing a g-suit and are well trained and lucky.

(above found with:
https://www.google.com/search?&q=maximum+G+force+of+space+shuttle)

Please add safety factors; especially for vibration and wind buffeting.

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • #11
berkeman
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My design will be able to enter low level orbit , the craft and the occupants of the craft experiencing almost 0 g-force stress ,
Well, except for those pesky liftoff and reentry portions of the flight... :wink:
 
  • #12
russ_watters
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I'm sure NASA would have that specific information although some of it may be classified !
The ISS is not a military project. You may not find actual design drawings online, but you should try doing some basic googling of your question. There is a ton of information out there that you could spend many hours browsing if you just try.
 
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