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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

On-Orbit Assembly of a Universally Interlocking Modular Spacecraft (7224-110), Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

On-Orbit Assembly of a Universally Interlocking Modular Spacecraft (7224-110), Phase I
Physical Sciences Inc. and Advanced Solutions, Inc. propose a novel approach for on-orbit assembly of a modular spacecraft using a unique universal, intelligent, electromechanical interface (AUTOCONNECT) on surfaces of individual modules. AUTOCONNECT not only provides mechanical fastening between modules (irrespective of relative alignments and orientations), but also automatically configures electrical connections among modules. Mechanical attachment occurs due to docking and physical contact between modules with sufficient initial momenta. The transmitted forces during docking will be much less than the launch forces for which the spacecraft modules are designed. The mass properties of the module assembly are determined on orbit and the entire assembly functions as a spacecraft unit. Benefits of on-orbit assembly using AUTOCONNECT include: (i) Configurability; mission-specific spacecraft construction by assembling desired subsystem modules (ii) Reconfigurability; adapt to new missions by adding new, advanced technology modules, (iii) On orbit Repair/Refurbishment of existing spacecraft with new, advanced technology subsystems/payloads, and (iv) Lower costs and increased space access by launching smaller and lighter spacecraft modules. In Phase I, we will demonstrate autoconfiguration of electrical connections between two AUTOCONNECT-equipped modules. We will experimentally simulate the docking and on-orbit assembly of up to three modules, including real-time mass properties determination and attitude control. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.