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Robotically Assembled Space Telescopes with Deployable Modules: Concepts and Design Methodologies


Hogstrom, Kristina (2017) Robotically Assembled Space Telescopes with Deployable Modules: Concepts and Design Methodologies. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9T151NT.


This thesis first presents a novel architecture for robotically assembled optical telescopes with apertures between 20 m and 100 m, that utilizes only currently available technology. In this architecture, the primary mirror consists of two layers: a reflective layer and a truss backplane layer. The reflective layer is divided into mirror modules, or groups of mirror segments and actuators. The truss backplane layer is divided into truss modules that fold compactly for launch and are deployed in space by the robot. In this thesis, the design methodology of the mirror modules and truss modules is detailed. The ability of the designed truss layer to maintain precision requirements in the presence of typical space environment loads is demonstrated.

This architecture requires the deployment of many truss modules, and thus the deployment must be reliable despite errors introduced during manufacturing. In this thesis, a new simulation-based toolkit for estimating deployment reliability is described, including the experimental validation of the deployment simulation and the Monte Carlo-style method for repeating deployment simulations with different distributions of random fabrication errors to statistically estimate reliability. Using the toolkit, a set of reliability trade studies are then presented, revealing how different types of errors and design parameters affect reliability. Finally, the manufacturing tolerances and design modifications required to ensure high reliability are proposed.

Even if all modules deploy successfully, fabrication errors will still be present and may affect the assembly process. In this thesis, a new simulation method is presented that can model the step-by-step assembly of flexible modules with errors. The method is used to reveal that overall shape errors grow with the number of connections, resulting in significantly decreased surface precision and large-scale deformations from the nominal backplane shape as the size of the backplane increases. The misalignment at each individual connection does not increase as the backplane increases, but can still be much larger than the applied manufacturing tolerances simply due to random combinations. A simple design for the interconnects between modules is then tested, with simulation results demonstrating that it is unlikely to fully engage when the expected errors are present. With this information, a requirement on the complexity of the interconnect design is inferred, and potential modifications that may increase its efficacy are suggested.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:robotics, assembly, telescope, deployable, reliability, space
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Space Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Thesis Committee:
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami (chair)
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
  • Kochmann, Dennis M.
  • Burdick, Joel Wakeman
Defense Date:27 June 2016
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Space Technology Research FellowshipNNX13AL67H
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:07182016-100030713
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Chapter 2 DOIConference paper adapted for Chapters 3 and 4 paper adapted for Chapter 2
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9890
Deposited By: Kristina Hogstrom
Deposited On:29 Aug 2016 18:39
Last Modified:02 Nov 2021 19:19

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