Investigating semi-rigid Kapton panels for use in space telescopes

Jonathan Black, Suzanne Weaver Smith, Jack Leifer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The success of the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories has created a demand in the United States for ever larger and more powerful space telescopes. Ultra-lightweight and/or inflatable gossamer space structures have the potential to significantly enhance the performance of space telescopes and other satellites, but nonlinearities in their behavior present many barriers to implementation that have yet to be overcome. Semi-rigid thermal-formed Kapton panels are investigated here as a means of addressing some of the prohibitive challenges of more traditional gossamer structures. The panels were tested statically in compression revealing nonlinear behavior consisting of multiple regions of unique, linear stiffnesses, and one region of nonlinear, negative stiffness. Numerical models accurately representing the geometry of the panels were created, then reduced and refined when they proved to be incapable of matching the experimental data and excessively computationally intensive. The reduced hybrid models performed much better computationally and approximately matched the experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2005
EventInternational Astronautical Federation - 56th International Astronautical Congress 2005 - Fukuoka, Japan
Duration: Oct 17 2005Oct 21 2005


ConferenceInternational Astronautical Federation - 56th International Astronautical Congress 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


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