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Environmental Effects on ISS Materials Aging (1998 to 2008)The performance of ISS spacecraft materials and systems on prolonged exposure to the low- Earth orbit (LEO) space flight are reported in this paper. In-flight data, flight crew observations, and the results of ground-based test and analysis directly supporting programmatic and operational decision-making are described. The space flight environments definitions (both natural and induced) used for ISS design, material selection, and verification testing are shown, in most cases, to be more severe than the actual flight environment accounting, in part, for the outstanding performance of ISS as a long mission duration spacecraft. No significant ISS material or system failures have been attributed to spacecraft-environments interactions. Nonetheless, ISS materials and systems performance data is contributing to our understanding of spacecraft material interactions with the spaceflight environment so as to reduce cost and risk for future spaceflight projects and programs. Orbital inclination (51.6 deg) and altitude (nominally near 360 km) determine the set of natural environment factors affecting the functional life of materials and systems on ISS. ISS operates in an electrically conducting environment (the F2 region of Earth s ionosphere) with well-defined fluxes of atomic oxygen, other charged and neutral ionospheric plasma species, solar UV, VUV, and x-ray radiation as well as galactic cosmic rays, trapped radiation, and solar cosmic rays. The LEO micrometeoroid and orbital debris environment is an especially important determinant of spacecraft design and operations. The magnitude of several environmental factors varies dramatically with latitude and longitude as ISS orbits the Earth. The high latitude orbital environment also exposes ISS to higher fluences of trapped energetic electrons, auroral electrons, solar cosmic rays, and galactic cosmic rays than would be the case in lower inclination orbits, largely as a result of the overall shape and magnitude of the geomagnetic field. As a result, ISS exposure to many environmental factors can vary dramatically along a particular orbital ground track, and from one ground track to the next, during any 24-hour period. The induced environment results from ISS interactions with the natural environment as well as environmental factors produced by ISS itself and visiting vehicles fleet. Examples include ram-wake effects, hypergolic thruster plume impingement, materials out-gassing, venting and dumping of fluids, and specific photovoltaic (PV) power system interactions with the ionospheric plasma (7-11). Vehicle size (L) and velocity (V), combined with the magnitude and direction of the geomagnetic field (B) produce operationally significant magnetic induction voltages (VxB.L) in ISS conducting structure during flight through high latitudes (> +45deg) during each orbit. Finally, an induced ionizing radiation environment is produced by cosmic ray interaction with the relatively thick ISS structure and shielding materials. The intent of this review article is, therefore, to provide a summary of selected aspects and elements of the ISS vehicle with regard to LEO space environment effects, associated with the much larger and more complicated vehicle that ISS has become since 1998, but also with an eye towards performance life extension to the year 2016 and beyond.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Alred, John (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Dasgupta, Rajib (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Koontz, Steve (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Soares, Carlos (Boeing Aerospace Co. Houston, TX, United States)
Golden, John (Boeing Aerospace Co. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
May 4, 2009
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
Meeting Information
Aging Aircraft Conference(Washington, DC)
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