During our Phase I STTR effort, Balcones Technologies, LLC (BT) and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics (CEM) successfully achieved all Phase I objectives and developed concept designs for controlled Canfield Joint Systems (CJS) for numerous applications that currently employ two-axis gimbal systems, including flywheel energy storage systems, integrated flywheel energy storage and attitude control systems, controlled moment gyros (CMG), and pointing systems for satellite-to-earth and satellite-to-satellite space optical communications (SOC). While all applications offered advantages for CJS compared to gimbal alternatives, a major result from our Phase I commercialization study was that the highest payoff Phase II demonstration for NASA and other commercial applications would focus on a CJS simultaneously sized for two applications: small satellite CMG and small satellite optical communications. Since the SOC application is more demanding and this emerging application offers more terrestrial and space applications, this application will serve as our demonstration target for Phase II. Additionally, since the SOC application has demanding vibration isolation requirements (especially for deep space communications) and since the BT-CEM team has very advanced expertise in this area, our Phase II demonstration will include development and integration of a vibration isolation system (VIS). Some key CJS-SOC features include: More than 30% improvement in pointing accuracy and precision compared to 2 axis gimbal systems; Integrated vibration isolation system to meet deep space optical communication systems; Also sized for small CMG application; Wide field of regard; Scalable to large flywheel applications; Maximum use of COTS components; Exploits team core capabilities in vibration isolation systems and high precision, high accuracy point systems.More »
Our integrated Canfield Joint System and Vibration Isolation System CJS-VIS) is an improved actuation system for pointing and attitude control meeting the needs of various NASA applications. Some of these applications include: • Flywheel energy storage based spacecraft attitude control • Optical communication vibration control (including deep space applications) • Eliminating umbilical slip rings and/or anti-windup control features • Advanced space communication and cross linked networking • Space telescopes and imaging • Thruster directional control Thru the unification of a CJS parallel actuator system and Balcones Technologies proven VIS technology, BT's solution provides not only full hemispherical pointing/attitude control capability, but vibration isolation as well. Advantages of our team's CJS-VIS concept include inherent system redundancy through its three actuators; elimination of "gimbal lock;" and kinematics that preclude rotation about the z-axis which eliminates the need for slip rings or imposed rotational limits. Thru the addition of a third high bandwidth, fine pointing mirror, the "layered" VIS control approach is scalable to 1 kHz. In doing so, it represents a single system suitable for fine pointing within 1 µrad with less than 0.5 µrad standard deviation from 0.01 Hz thru 1 kHz. The CJS-VIS system represents a minimal component, single source, competitive solution meeting current and future needs for a variety of NASA programs.
The CJS-VIS offers a competitively priced alternative to 2-axis gimbal systems that has higher precision, higher accuracy, and higher reliability. All the satellite related applications NASA desires this system for (SOC pointing, solar array pointing, thruster orientation, attitude control systems, etc.), have parallels in the commercial and military satellite sectors making these the highest value initial target markets. In addition to these space-based systems, the CJS-VIS offers an attractive alternative for the military in ground based weapons pointing and surveillance systems. Positioning of radio frequency antennae and telescope components for the military and industrial users is also a high value target market to exploit. The commercial market has several applications that are not as high value but higher volume in some cases. These will be harder to penetrate initially, due to existing products that are well entrenched, and include; the medical industry where similar systems are used in automated surgical and imaging system; industrial manufacturing where automated multi-axis control systems are used in machining, fabrication, and integration systems; industrial motion simulators; and automated imaging systems used for aerial mapping, facial recognition, movies, and even Google's "street view" images. BT's intent is to focus on the highest value applications first and then target these lower value applications as the system cost is reduced.
|Organizations Performing Work
|Balcones Technologies, LLC
|Glenn Research Center (GRC)
|University of Texas - Center for Electromechanics