North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT; Renens, Switzerland), a leader in lightweight prepreg materials, reports that it has been chosen as the composite materials partner for a proposed Thin Aperture Light Collector (TALC) space telescope project (talc-telescope.eu).
NTPT is working as part of a consortium brought together by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). The group also includes Multiplast, the French composite component specialists and a number of academic institutions. Together they will develop a new space telescope with significantly improved sensitivity and resolution.
An astronomer’s ability to detect smaller and fainter objects is ultimately limited by the size of a telescope’s reflector, and as existing technologies and launch vehicles reached a limit with regards to reflector sizes, a new approach has been devised.
The team working on the TALC project has developed a new reflector design and a new stacking technique to enable a massive 20m diameter annular reflector, constructed from sections of carbon fiber composite, to fit within the maximum dimensions of the existing launch rocket payload fairings.
NTPT will supply a low cure temperature, high Tg, thin ply prepreg for the TALC project using pitch fibers and a cyanate ester resin system. These prepregs will be processed into honeycomb components, with small cells for the reflector face supports and larger cells for the backing structure. The pitch-based carbon fibers used in the NTPT materials reportedly provide exceptional stability (due to their low CTE) and heat conductivity in the finished composite components — both critical parameters in the production of a telescope mirror that will function as designed in a space environment.
The TALC consortium is currently in the final stages of the process to secure the project funding and key team members.
Editor PickGE Aviation making progress on CMC facilities in Alabama
$200 million Huntsville operation to produce up to 20 metric tons of material a year.