Analyswift Receives NASA Contract for Improving Simulation of Thin-Ply Composites Used in Spacecraft

March 01 (2021

Sometimes big things come in small packages, and the new thin but strong materials AnalySwift, the University of Central Florida, and Purdue University are helping NASA develop are no exception.

These materials, known as thin-ply composites, are as thin as carpenter’s measuring tape but strong enough to support satellite payloads, such as solar sails for solar-powered space travel, or serve as supports for large spacecraft.

And like measuring tape, thin-ply composite structures can be rolled up, compacted and stored for long periods until they are needed to be deployed.

The thin composites are made from woven fibers of materials such as carbon, graphene and polymers, and their strength comes from slight curves along their edges that allow them to support weight rather than bending backward.

The work is funded through a recently declared NASA Small Business Technology Transfer program in which Purdue University-affiliated software company AnalySwift is the lead and UCF is the primary research institution.

The project is titled “Modeling Nonlinear Viscoelasticity and Time-Dependent Yielding of Thin-Ply Composites.”


“Thin-ply composites offer significant gains in performance over traditional metallic materials for constructing deployable spacecraft structures,” says Kawai Kwok, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering who is leading the research.

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