Deploytech : Advancing the Technology of Deployable Structures

Deploytech | Advancing the Technology of Deployable Structures

Large deployable structures are a critical part of a number of space structures and systems, such as large reflectors, Earth observation antennas, radiators, sun shields and solar arrays. The main objective of DEPLOYTECH is to advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of three space deployable technologies by qualifying their concepts and technologies for space use. The project also aims to contribute to the broader goal of supplying Europe with space critical technologies in alignment with European strategic challenges and TRL requirements. DEPLOYTECH has eight European partner institutions, one of which is ATHENA-SPU, and is assisted by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (as an external consulting partner). The project is funded by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and will run for three years from 2012 to the end of 2014.

Deploytech Project Goals

The goal of the DEPLOYTECH project is to develop three specific, useful, robust and innovative large space deployable technologies:

an inflatable drag sail called InflateSail
a deployable solar array of dimensions 1m x 5m
solar sail booms of maximum length 14m

The first concept/technology proposed consists of a deployment system for a large drag sail based on a gas generator system, and ultra thin inflatable booms for structural support. Inflatesail will be built to fit in a 3 unit (3U) CubeSat (satellite platform/nanosatellite) when stowed. The standard 3U structure size is 10x10x34 cm.The second concept/technology to be flight qualified in DEPLOYTECH involves the use of Bi-stable Reeled Composite (BRC) booms to deploy a 1m x 5m solar panel/array.The third technology that will be flight qualified in DEPLOYTECH is a type of deployable Solar Sail Boom designed by DLR. It is made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), and consists of two co-bonded half shells to give a closed cross section. This same style of boom is also under consideration for DLR's Gossamer solar sailing missions.The aim is to develop each of the technologies mentioned above from a current TRL of 2-3 to 6-8 within the 3 years of the proposed DEPLOYTECH project. An underlying support activity that will take place as part of the DEPLOYTECH project is the modelling of deployable structures with specific focus on the three mentioned concepts.

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Deploytech Project Mission Advantages:

The use of new, more efficient, lighter and flexible space structures and systems in space provides a number of benefits. New missions/space applications can be conceived using ultra-light structures such as solar arrays, solar sail propulsion systems and deorbit systems in a more cost-effective, flexible manner. Through DEPLOYTECH, the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) of three key deployable space structure concepts will be advanced, in order to address the need for greater competence in manufacturing and testing capabilities in Europe. The three concepts involved in DEPLOYTECH are further developments of existing technologies, rather than technologies that have to be developed from scratch. The effort needed to raise the TRL of deployable CFRP booms, inflatable structures and deployable solar arrays is achievable and realistic. The applicability of these concepts is also in line with the current demand for space deployable structures and each concept fulfils an existing and growing need. The availability of upcoming flight opportunities adds an exciting dimension to the project. In order to raise the TRL's to its maximum level, demonstration of operation in space is a necessity. The timing of these concepts and the targeted flight opportunities are ideal to achieve this.


Phases of the Project:

Deploytech Partners:
surrey logoSurrey Space Centre - University of Surrey (leader)
Athena_Symbol_onlyATHENA Research Center/Space Programmes Unit
DLR LogoDeutsches Zentrum fόr Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)
Astrium LogoAstrium S.A.S
rolatube LogoRolaTube
cambridge LogoCambridge University Department of Engineering
tno LogoTNO Innovation for life
cgg LogoCGG Technologies