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Packaging and Deployment of Large Planar Spacecraft Structures


Arya, Manan (2016) Packaging and Deployment of Large Planar Spacecraft Structures. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9Z60M0D.


This thesis presents a set of novel methods to biaxially package planar structures by folding and wrapping. The structure is divided into strips connected by folds that can slip during wrapping to accommodate material thickness. These packaging schemes are highly efficient, with theoretical packaging efficiencies approaching 100%. Packaging tests on meter-scale physical models have demonstrated packaging efficiencies of up to 83%. These methods avoid permanent deformation of the structure, allowing an initially flat structure to be deployed to a flat state.

Also presented are structural architectures and deployment schemes that are compatible with these packaging methods. These structural architectures use either in-plane pretension -- suitable for membrane structures -- or out-of-plane bending stiffness to resist loading. Physical models are constructed to realize these structural architectures. The deployment of these types of structures is shown to be controllable and repeatable by conducting experiments on lab-scale models.

These packaging methods, structural architectures, and deployment schemes are applicable to a variety of spacecraft structures such as solar power arrays, solar sails, antenna arrays, and drag sails; they have the potential to enable larger variants of these structures while reducing the packaging volume required. In this thesis, these methods are applied to the preliminary structural design of a space solar power satellite. This deployable spacecraft, measuring 60 m x 60 m, can be packaged into a cylinder measuring 1.5 m in height and 1 m in diameter. It can be deployed to a flat configuration, where it acts as a stiff lightweight support framework for multifunctional tiles that collect sunlight, generate electric power, and transmit it to a ground station on Earth.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:aerospace engineering; structural engineering; deployable spacecraft; packaging; deployment; origami
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Space Engineering
Awards:Charles D. Babcock Award, 2014. Charles D. Babcock Award, 2015.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Thesis Committee:
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami (chair)
  • Kochmann, Dennis M.
  • Hunt, Melany L.
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Defense Date:2 May 2016
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05232016-115519723
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for chapter 2 adapted for chapters 3 and 4
Arya, Manan0000-0003-3522-6010
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9734
Deposited By: Manan Arya
Deposited On:31 May 2016 16:02
Last Modified:02 Nov 2021 19:20

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