Golden Jubilee of Composite Materials Activities at ISRO

Composite materials are engineering materials formed by the combination of two or more materials on a macroscopic scale, which in synergy exhibit properties better than the constituents. Composite materials are light in weight and possess better structural and thermal properties, making them suitable materials to realise structural and ablative products for launch vehicle applications. By proper selection of reinforcements and matrices, composites materials exhibit properties like transparency of radio frequency, low moisture content and low expansion under thermal environment making them ideal materials for spacecraft applications.

Among the various types of composites, considering the types of reinforcements and matrices, Polymer Matrix Composites (PMC) and Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) have been widely used for aerospace applications. Emergence of strong and stiff reinforcements like carbon fibre along with advances in polymer research producing high performance resins as matrix materials, have enabled the development of composite products to meet stringent requirements. The large scale use of composite products currently in space programmes are through the development and usage of structural, filament wound and thermo-structural composite products which utilise the potential of these materials.  Automated and controlled design and processing of composite materials have enabled the realisation of filament wound composite products for application in pressure vessels for launch vehicles. The high temperature capabilities of carbon fiber as reinforcement and carbon matrices retaining the strength at higher temperature, have enabled the realisation of indigenous Carbon-Carbon Composite products for thermo-structural applications.

The genesis of Composites is traced to the development of payload deck, way back in 1966 for Nike Apache sounding rocket, which led to further uses of composites for both launch vehicles and spacecrafts. Competence in Composites technology in diverse range of products for ISRO’s missions has been developed in Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), starting from design and analysis, state-of-the-art processing, characterisation, inspection, testing and qualification with the necessary quality assurance systems.

Presently, the activity has spread its wings to meet challenging demands of Indian Space Programme. After gaining its momentum through development and successful flight products in SLV-3, the activity has now blossomed to deliver a gamut of products in all prestigious missions of ISRO. An impressive array of Composite products has performed in PSLV, GSLV, GSLV MKIII, SRE, RLV, ABPP missions as well as in Communication and Remote Sensing satellites. The activity gaining its core competence over these last five decades has also been recognised as a 'Centre of Excellence' in Composites.

VSSC celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Composites activities during December 2016. Shri A. S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO/Secretary, DOS, inaugurated the "Golden Jubilee of five decades of Composite entity at ISRO". He highlighted the journey of Composites technology for space applications, which started under the leadership of Prof. Vikram A. Sarabhai, followed by Prof. Satish Dhawan and Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, flourished under the leadership of many stalwarts producing outstanding results. Dr. K. Sivan, Director, VSSC in his presidential address lauded the contributions of Composites Entity and mentioned that Composites team has built a legacy through development and delivery of Ablative, Molded and Thermo-structural products to meet ISRO’s mission requirements.

An exhibition of Composite products and facilities was also arranged during the event. A curtain raiser video narrating the evolution of composites activity and the impressive strides made in delivering structures for launch vehicles and spacecrafts was showcased. A document titled ‘Composites Entity–Centre of Excellence” and a “Compendium of Composite Products” were released during the event. All the former employees who were the part of the journey of composites activities were felicitated along with the Industry partners. A book with collection of reminiscences of former employees was also released as part of the event.

The event was participated by around 600 members of space community (who have been associated with Composite activities) during the inaugural function, and more than 1000 participants for the exhibition. Experts in Composites and former veterans delivered lectures during the symposium and shared the memories of initial days of development. 

Chairman, ISRO Inaugurating the Golden Jubilee Event


Release of the Document During the Event


Exhibition of Composite Products and Facilities