M55J/RS-3C resin composite structures on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) sunshield will concurrently maintain loads and be exposed to temperature extremes throughout the life of the observatory. Increasing the glass transition temperature (Tg) is intended to decrease the elevated temperature creep of the composite structures (increase dimensional stability). Also, material allowables for RS-3C at temperatures other than ambient had not been previously published at NGAS.

A postcure process that elevates the Tg approximately 50 ºF (from 350 to 400 ºF) for the RS-3C resin system was developed. A design allowables test program, which validated preliminary design criteria encompassing laminates and honeycomb structures over a temperature range from -270 ºF to 325 ºF, was performed. The preliminary design allowables for temperature extremes were generated as part of this effort, but utilized some supplier data based on a baseline cure cycle. A limited test program for post-cured coupons validated that the preliminary allowables were conservative.

The postcure process achieves a Tg approximately 50 ºF higher than the typical cure process with no degradation in properties noted. The design allowables program published properties at cold and hot temperatures.

This work was done by Frank Horey, Brian Hill, and Ashley Kashiwabara of Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. for Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact Scott Leonardi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. GSC-17125-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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