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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Miniaturized, High-Reliability CubeSat Release Mechanism

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This proposal describes a Phase I effort aimed at using additive manufacturing (AM) and a commercial partnership to build a miniaturized, general purpose CubeSat release mechanism.  The objective of Phase I is to demonstrate the feasibility of combining an “off the shelf”, high-reliability actuator with a GSFC designed mechanism and CubeSat power and volume constraints to achieve a multi-purpose CubeSat release mechanism.

The intention of this Phase I effort is to demonstrate the design and proof of concept of a miniaturized release mechanism.  As part of that effort, it is our intention to demonstrate the value of using both additive manufacturing (AM) techniques and a commercial partnership to build a miniaturized, general purpose CubeSat release mechanism.  The objective of Phase I is to demonstrate the feasibility of combining an “off the shelf”, high-reliability actuator with a GSFC designed mechanism and CubeSat power and volume constraints to achieve a multi-purpose CubeSat release mechanism.

Traditional CubeSat release systems have utilized a burn wire approach for releasing spacecraft systems.  There is mounting evidence that these burn wire systems have high failure rates.  Additionally, these burn wire systems require refurbishment after every test.  This Early-Stage Innovation will demonstrate a high-reliability system that maintains compatibility with CubeSat power and electrical systems.  In addition, it is envisioned that a re-settable CoTS actuator can be used that will allow the release mechanism to be reset after every use rather than being replaced.

This effort will be broken into 2 phases.  The first phase will be the design or a release mechanism that can meet the needs of multiple deployable spacecraft systems.  The design will be accomplished using GSFC Computer Aided Design tools.  The second phase will then produce a physical, functional model of the proposed design.  It is anticipated that the second phase may uncover issues with the design which will then be corrected.  The appeal of printing the prototype model is that there can be a quick turn-around between design iterations.

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