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Dever, J., Semmel, C., Edwards, D., Messer, R., Peters, W., Carter, A., and Puckett, D., “Radiation Durability of Candidate Polymer Films for the Next Generation Space Telescope Sunshield,” AIAA 2002-1564, April 2002.  Also appears as:  NASA TM-2002-211508, April 2002.

The Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), anticipated to be launched in 2009 for a 10-year mission, will make observations in the infrared portion of the spectrum to examine the origins and evolution of our universe. Because it must operate at cold temperatures in order to make these sensitive measurements, it will use a large, lightweight, deployable sunshield, comprised of several polymer film layers, to block heat and stray light. This paper describes laboratory radiation durability testing of candidate NGST sunshield polymer film materials. Samples of fluorinated polyimides CP1 and CP2; and a polyarylene ether benzimidazole, TOR-LM™, were exposed to 40 keV electron and 40 keV proton radiation followed by exposure to vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation in the 115-200 nm wavelength range. Samples of these materials were also exposed to VUV without prior electron and proton exposure. Samples of polyimides Kapton® HN, Kapton® E, and Upilex-S were exposed to electrons and protons, only, due to limited available exposure area in the VUV facility. Exposed samples were evaluated for changes in solar absorptance and thermal emittance and mechanical properties of ultimate tensile strength and elongation at failure. Data obtained are compared with previously published data for radiation durability testing of these polymer film materials.

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Dever, J., Messer, R., Powers, C., Townsend, J., and Wooldridge, E., “Effects of Vacuum Ultraviolet Radiation on Thin Polyimide Films,” High Performance Polymers, Vol 13, No 3, pp S391-S399, September 2001.  Also in: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Materials in a Space Environment and the 5th International Conference on Protection of Materials and Structures, Arcachon, France, June 2000.

This paper describes the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation durability screening testing of thin (12.7 to 25.4 µm) polyimide films proposed for use on the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) sunshield. Materials included in this screening test were Kapton®E, Kapton®HN, Upilex®S, CP1, CP1 with vapor deposited aluminum (VDA) on its back surface, and CP2 with a VDA coating on its back surface. Samples were exposed to approximately 1000 equivalent sun hours (ESH) of VUV radiation and examined for changes in solar absorptance, thermal emittance, ultimate tensile strength, and elongation-to-failure. Changes in solar absorptance were observed for some materials, and additionally, significant changes in spectral reflectance were observed in the ultraviolet to visible wavelength region for all polyimide materials tested. Changes in ultimate tensile strength and elongation at failure were within the experimental uncertainty for all samples. Longer exposures are needed to verify the observed trends and to develop performance predictions for these materials on the NGST sunshield.

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Powers, C., Townsend, J., Wooldridge, E., Connell, J., Dever, J., Edwards, D., and Peters, W., “Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) Thin Film Materials Test Program,” prepared for the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers Proceedings, Vol 4013, pp 962-969, Munich, Germany, March 29-31, 2000.

A test program has been implemented to evaluate candidate thin film materials for the sun-facing layer of the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) sunshield. Various polymers are being tested to determine if any can survive the radiation environment of the proposed NGST orbit (the second sun-Earth Lagrangian point, or L2). This testing will characterize the mechanical and thermal properties before and after exposure to a simulated NGST sunshield environment. In addition, because the sunshield will be folded and stowed before launch, the candidate materials will be folded, stowed, and unfolded (deployed) to determine if they can survive this type of handling and storage. Based on the results of this testing, candidates will be selected for further development and testing. Future development will include the addition of optical coatings, rip-stop for tear resistance, and seaming techniques.

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Last Updated: 04/14/2006