Rocket launches with plastic payload module
For the REXUS rocket mission in March, a team at the Technical University of Munich has developed a payload module made of thermoplastic CFRP, which is 40% lighter than conventional aluminum modules.19 Mar. 2019 Barbara Rusch
The 23rd REXUS rocket mission will see the launch of a high-altitude research rocket from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which will be carrying the new payload module. The advantages of thermoplastic CFRP (carbon fiber-reinforced plastic): In contrast to fiber-reinforced thermosets, which are already used in aeronautics, thermoplastic CFRP does not need to cure in an autoclave after manufacture and is 40% lighter than an aluminum module. The module’s cylindrical tube and its load input rings, made from the same thermoplastic material, can be bonded directly to the rings during construction of the cylinder. “The consolidation process gives us a component that looks like it came from a single mold,” explains Ralf Engelhardt from the Department of Carbon Composites at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). “This saves on time, weight, and money.”
The fibers used in the construction of the cylinder are embedded in polyetheretherketone (PEEK). During the maiden flight , fiber-optical temperature sensors integrated in the module will directly measure the thermal load of the payload module at various depths within the material itself. The data will be read by a measuring device created by TUM spin-off fos4X .
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