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Engineering Materials
Pegasus XL Launch Rocket Flies on Composites
7/9/2012

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The two halves of the the Pegasus XL payload fairing's composite shell are shown here being cleaned and inspected at Vandenberg Air Force Base before the spacecraft is encapsulated.   (Source: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, Vandenberg Air Force Base)
The two halves of the the Pegasus XL payload fairing's composite shell are shown here being cleaned and inspected at Vandenberg Air Force Base before the spacecraft is encapsulated.
(Source: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, Vandenberg Air Force Base)

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Charles Murray
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Re: Quite an endorsement
Charles Murray   7/9/2012 8:03:00 PM
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I agree, Rob. Seems like the ideal application for composites, where the high cost isn't a concern, as it would be in high-production-volume apps.

Rob Spiegel
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Quite an endorsement
Rob Spiegel   7/9/2012 5:31:21 PM
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Nice piece, Ann. This is quite an endorsement for composites -- a NASA endorsement. One small step for NASA, one large step for composites.

naperlou
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Composites used for decades
naperlou   7/9/2012 9:24:10 AM
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Ann, while the application of composites for the booster is new stuff, their use in the spacecraft itself is old hat.  I worked at one spacecraft plant where we made our own composites from raw materials.  One of our direct competitors, with whom we were merged later on, got their composites from a company whose main business was railcars.  It was an interesting revelation when we found out. 

I actually worked on the testing of the UARS satelite structure.  It was the first large composite structure.  If you recall, UARS recently fell back to earth.  It was one of the largest satellites to do so.  It was the size of a school bus and filled the Shuttle cargo bay.  In testing we found some interesting things out about how the composites reacted structurally.  Now, this was in the 1980s.  It would have been nice to have some of the more robust CAE tools available today. 

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