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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Modular Self-Rigidizing Lightweight Structures, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Modular Self-Rigidizing Lightweight Structures, Phase I
An innovative structures concept has been developed that uses space qualified flexible thin film polyimide to produce ultra-lightweight inflation deployed self-rigidizing structural components with very small packaging volume and extremely high buckling/bending strength to accurately deploy and provide precision assembly of modular space systems. This membrane material can be thermally formed to virtually any shape to produce booms, elbows, tees, flanges, and flat or curved panels to support or connect space structure components and facilitate in-space assembly. Tube and panel specimens with various stiffener cross section geometries have been produced that demonstrated precision modular assembly and impressive stiffness. This Phase I effort is proposed to design and fabricate a representative sub-scale structure subassembly comprised of flat or curved structural panels, support tubes/struts, and associated connector/interface components to demonstrate the structural integrity and modularity of the technology and scalability of the manufacturing process. Phase II can produce and demonstrate a full-scale mission applicable inflatable space structure or habitat assembly that can be compactly packaged for launch, pressurized for deployment, and rigidized after deployment/assembly with no internal pressure required to maintain structural stiffness and shape. Emphasis will be placed on deployability, providing for modular assembly, and scalability of the manufacturing technology. More »

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.