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Optical Precision Deployment Latch, Phase II

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Virtually all optical information gathering instruments benefit from greater aperture. For space-based instruments whose geometries are constrained by the launch vehicle, increasing the aperture requires deployment of some aspect of the optical train and then the precise and dynamically stable latching of the deployed components into defined positions. Existing latching technology is either too inaccurate, unstable, or expensive for use in many NASA small satellite missions. Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has developed a simple, scalable latching technology by applying precision engineering approaches from previous developments that carefully manages the friction and strain energy stored internal to the latching mechanism. This latch was shown to have better than 350 nm repeatability and stability. During the Phase I activities, PSI has also shown that an alternative locking flexure approach could meet the needs of certain deployable optics applications. Both approaches provide a small, low-cost latching system with sub-micron positional repeatability and dynamic stability. During the Phase II efforts, PSI will further explore the performance of the mechanism and flexure approaches and then down-select to one approach for complete development. PSI will integrate the precision deployment lock into a complete set of flexures and mechanisms to provide NASA and other customers with a complete deployment system for a 6U cubesat. In addition to the precision latching components, the team will also address launch restraint, deployment actuation & rate control, and the associated deployment of the sun shade and light baffles that are critical to the operation of any high performance optical spacecraft instrument. The results of the Phase II will be an integrated system that will provide all of the deployable aspects needed for NASA and others to launch, deploy, and operate high performance optical instruments from cubesats, ESPA-sats, and other small spacecraft platforms. More »

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