The design of future space structures may anticipate a greater need for in-space assembly due to larger planned space structures and changes in mission profiles over their operational lifetimes. A rapid and reversible adhesive coating over the structure’s surface would allow additional components to be bonded at any arbitrary time in the future. A scalable wide-area reversible adhesive utilizing a high glass transition thermoset polymer possessing thermally exchangeable bonds can serve as an enabling technology for in-space assembly. Coatings of aromatic thermosetting copolyesters can be deposited on aluminum and titanium coupons, which bond when heated to 400 °C with the counterpart surfaces under pressure. Reversibility over multiple cycles is shown within a dynamic mechanical analyzer with the limiting constraint being the necessity of nondelaminatory (cohesive) debonding of the bonded coupons. Bonded coupons can sustain a thermal cycle spanning the representative temperatures in low earth orbit under tension with no failure. A localized rapid heating method amenable for in-space assembly can be used to bond titanium coupons using induction heating with a bonding time of 40 s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000006
JournalMacromolecular Materials and Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • adhesives
  • assembly
  • in-space assembly
  • materials for space
  • reversible bonding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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