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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Advanced Composite Truss (ACT) Printing for Large Solar Array Structures

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

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Large solar arrays (100 kW-1 MW) are required in order to generate the power necessary for solar electric propulsion to drive NASA's future missions, including: Asteroid Redirect Mission, Mars Exploration, and NASA Commercial Supply. The advantages and benefits of large solar array designs will only be realized if the array support structure weight and packaging volume are minimized. SDC's Advanced Composite Truss (ACT) additive manufacturing technology can provide a 30-40% weight savings and a 250-300% improvement in power per unit volume over existing state-of- the-art solar array boom structures. The ACT technology consists of the lightweight advanced composite truss, the autonomous low-packing volume ACT printer, and an integrated solar array deployment system. The weight of the ACT structure is designed to optimize the load carrying path within an open truss architecture. The material for the truss is efficiently packaged within the envelope of the ACT printer prior to launch. Once in orbit, the ACT printer autonomously manufactures the ACT structure without the need for mechanical joints. The ACT printer can be scaled to manufacture any size, length, and/or geometry truss required to meet the prescribed mission requirements. Following the manufacture of the ACT truss, the integrated drive system of the ACT printer autonomously deploys the solar array. More »

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