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Bend-Test Results of the MISSE 7 Flexural Stress Effects Experiment After 1.5 Years of Space ExposureLow Earth orbital environmental exposure can cause degradation of exterior spacecraft materials. Radiation and thermal exposure often result in bond-breaking and embrittlement of polymers, reducing mechanical strength and structural integrity. The Flexural Stress Effects Experiment (FSEE) was flown with the objective of determining the role of space exposure on the degradation of polymers under flexural stress. The FSEE samples were flown in a wake orientation on the exterior of International Space Station for 1.5 years. Twenty-three polyimide and fluorinated polymers with various coatings were flown: 11 bent over a 0.375-inch diameter holder and 12 over a 0.25-inch diameter holder. A non-standard bend-test procedure was used to determine the surface strain at which embrittled polymers crack. None of the control samples cracked, even under surface strains up to 19.7%, although one coating cracked. Of the 10 flight samples tested, seven indicated increased embrittlement through bend-test cracking at surface strains from 0.65% to 8.11%. Therefore, most of the tested polymers were embrittled due to space exposure, when compared to their control samples. The samples flown over the 0.375-inch holder were more embrittled than those on the 0.25-inch holder. Determination of the extent of space induced embrittlement of polymers is important for designing durable spacecraft.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Snow, Kate E.
(Hathaway Brown School Shaker Heights, OH, United States)
de Groh, Kim K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) Cleveland, OH, United States)
Sechkar, Edward A.
(ZIN Technologies, Inc. Middleburg Heights, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
March 29, 2019
Publication Date
March 1, 2019
Subject Category
Inorganic, Organic And Physical Chemistry
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 228556.04.21.22
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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