Development of Light-Weight Multifunctional Structures 2007-01-3130
Today, in several industrial fields, the integration of functions is a key technology to enhance the efficiency of components in terms of performance to mass/volume/cost/ratio.
Concerning the space industry, in the last few years the trend in spacecraft design has been towards smaller, light-weight and higher performance satellites with sophisticated payloads and instrumentation. Increasing power density figures are the common feature of such systems, constituting a challenging task for the Thermal Control System. The traditional mechanical and thermal design concepts are evidencing their limits with reference to such an emerging scenario.
A promising solution consists in designing structural elements of a spacecraft that can integrate multiple functions: the capability of realizing a high level of integration of the different subsystems (typically structural strength, thermal control, electronics and shielding) into a multifunctional structure seems to represent an enabling technology in order to respond to the growing demands of present and future space missions.
A research program on the development of lightweight high-performance Multifunctional Structures (MFS) has been financed by the European Community under the MULFUN - Multifunctional Structures project. MULFUN is a STRP of the Sixth Framework Programme, carried out by an international team, coordinated by the Spanish Inasmet. Within the consortium, Thales Alenia Space Italia (TAS-I) is mainly in charge of thermal control aspects and thermo-mechanical design.
The MFS concept is based on an efficient use of advanced composite materials and components, on disruptive solutions for integrated design, dedicated modeling and simulation tools so as advanced assembly/manufacturing approaches.
Based on a deep investigation of the involved concepts and technological needs, the aim of the MULFUN project is the design, the manufacturing and testing of four MFS demonstration breadboards. The first two breadboards are devoted to the integration of thermal control and electrical functions into a unique high-performance structure. Results from this activity are reported in the paper, with emphasis on thermal aspects.