Tethers Unlimited’s MakerSat Would Allow Small Satellites to Grow on Orbit

Tethers Unlimited has been selected to receive up to $750,000 in NASA funding to demonstration technology that would allow small satellites to grow after they are launched into orbit.

The company’s MakerSat project was one of 128 proposals selected by NASA for phase II funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The contracts last two years.

“The proposed ‘MakerSat Demonstration Mission’ effort addresses…in-space manufacturing ‘constructable’ technologies, that allow smallsats to ‘grow/evolve’ into significantly larger structures,” according to the project’s technical abstract.

Tether Unlimited says it is aiming to meet the growing need for small satellites to perform long baseline and spatially diverse observation, measurement and collection missions.

“Traditionally, these types of missions would be performed either by using formation flying or by using ‘large’ satellites equipped with complex/advance deployable structures,” the abstract states. “A smallsat that once on orbit can increase its size from one to two orders of magnitude provides an exciting option to formation flying or deployable structures.”

The company also sees applications for the Department of Defense (DOD) and commercial missions.

“The advancements from the proposed ‘MakerSat Demonstration Mission’ effort for in-space structural construction technologies would be directly applicable to constructing large structures in-space and enabling new missions in both the commercial space industry and the DoD,” the abstract adds. “To support this assertion, TUI is already developing complementary in-space manufacturing technologies with both the DoD and commercial partners.”

A summary of the proposal follows.

MakerSat
Subtopic: Small Spacecraft Structures, Mechanisms, and Manufacturing

Tethers Unlimited, Inc.
Bothell, WA

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Blaine Levedahl

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

As SmallSats become the “Satellite of Choice” for NASA and other Government and Private Space Missions, there is a growing need to enable SmallSats to perform “Long Baseline” and “Spatially Diverse” observation, measurement and collection missions. Traditionally, these types of missions would be performed either by using formation flying or by using “large” satellites equipped with complex/advance deployable structures.

The proposed “MakerSat Demonstration Mission” effort addresses a third alternative for accomplishing this class of missions: In-Space Manufacturing “Constructable” technologies, that allow SmallSats to “grow / evolve” into significantly larger structures. A SmallSat that once on orbit can increase its size from one to two orders of magnitude provides an exciting option to formation flying or deployable structures.

The goal of the proposed effort is to develop a demonstration mission that proves the viability of Constructable technologies as an alternative solution for “Long Baseline” and “Spatially Diverse” observation, measurement and collection missions.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

SmallSats, including CubeSats, are quickly maturing technologically towards advanced capabilities, which will result in significant contributions to the achievement of NASA’s scientific and exploration missions. In fact, SmallSats are seriously being considered for complex, long duration missions to deep space locations and for Earth observing constellations.

However, while SmallSats have the benefit of small size and mass, making them generally easier and cheaper to launch, many space applications require larger physical sizes or alternate structural architectures. These applications can be realized through the innovation of novel In-Space Manufacturing ‘Constructable’ techniques that can drive the utility of SmallSats even further.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

In addition to direct NASA applications, the advancements from the proposed “MakerSat Demonstration Mission” effort for In-Space structural construction technologies would be directly applicable to constructing large structures in-space and enabling new missions in both the commercial space industry and the DoD. To support this assertion, TUI is already developing complementary in-space manufacturing technologies with both the DoD and commercial partners.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Antennas
  • Composites
  • In Situ Manufacturing
  • Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
  • Structures

  • Kenzi

    fargo, free quota, very easy to get : SECRETFILE4K.BLOGSPOT.COM