1 Apr 2021
INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: FLUOROPOLYMERS AND SPACECRAFT
Harsh environments are where fluoropolymers really come into their own. Thanks to a unique combination of characteristics, fluoropolymers offer the necessary resistance and durability to withstand the immense pressures bearing down on spacecrafts, allowing them to survive the long journeys through the vastness of space.
This applies particularly for the landing procedure which is the most perilous step of any mission in space given the punishing terrain. This is why fluoropolymer resins have been used time and time again, for example to coat critical cables, throughout the history of space exploration. Not only are fluoropolymers used in the space shuttle hardware – they have also been used as liners for tanks carrying drinking water to be transported to space.
As is the case with the Mars rover Perseverance, with each mission the level of added cutting-edge hardware and software continues to grow. Thanks to the durability of fluoropolymers and their dielectric traits, delicate circuitry and wiring can operate efficiently and allows Perseverance to collect a vast amount of data, expanding the limits of human knowledge. When we look at the images being beamed back to Earth, it is important to remember that this was made possible to a large degree thanks to chemistry in general and fluoropolymers in particular.