DEC 2018


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NEWS 23 Composites deploy satellites and latches for locking. ese complex designs require motors to extend them, but these add weight. ey're also expensive due to the extensive testing they require. Other mechanisms have used inatable deployments that employed fabrics made of glass •ber, Kevlar and other aramids, but they run a risk of deating. To address these issues, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Force Base, NM, US, developed high-strain composites (HSC) that improve the mass, complexity and cost of deployment systems. e AFRL worked with Roccor on solar array develop- ment systems and Roccor has used HSC tech- nology to create simpler, lighter and therefore lower cost deployment systems. HSC technology is necessary because of the increased use of small satel- lite systems, including microsats, which typically weigh less than ŠŠ‹ lb/Ž‹‹ kg, and cube-shaped cubesats. Cubesats are modular and comprised of units weighing no more than ' lb/Ž.'' kg per unit. ese small satellites populate low-Earth orbit (LEO) and carry payloads engineered to •t into small packages. Once in orbit, they then deploy antennae, solar arrays, camera booms and sensors. ese small satellites, simply put, just don't have room for tradi- tional deployment technologies. And that's where HSCs come in. According to Roccor, the packing factor for HSC systems is Ž‹ times denser than traditional materials, which allows for the integration of deployment systems that unfurl to lengths in excess of "• ft/Ž–m. ese structures often need to operate in multiple con•gura- tions with high precision and stability. e deployment mecha- nisms for these structures, which are Roccor's focus, are often made from HSCs and designed in exible con•gurations using rolled components that can be unfurled. e tension exerted on such structures is formidable. "Imagine a y-•shing rod, exing at high strain levels," says Will Francis, vice president of engineering at Roccor, speaking about the satellite booms that are being manufactured for Roccor at Ability Composites. Deployers Depending on the application, Roccor's HSC booms work with a variety of deployers. Shown here are deployers designed for microsats (right) and cubesats (top). Source | Roccor High-strain composites technology is necessary because of the increased use of small satellites.

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