Self-Locking Linear Actuator for Precision Deployment

Period of Performance: 08/14/2003 - 02/10/2004


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Composite Technology Development, Inc.
2600 Campus Drive Suite D
Lafayette, CO 80026
Principal Investigator


Future Space-Based Laser (SBL) weapons and high-resolution imaging systems will incorporate large, deployable reflectors that must efficiently package for launch. However, the use of deployment mechanisms can severely affect the dimensional stability of these structures. Composite Technology Development, Inc. (CTD) proposes to develop and demonstrate an innovative, lightweight, high-precision, self-locking actuator for deployable optical systems, which incorporates CTD's Elastic Memory Composite (EMC) material. The key feature of the proposed concept is an EMC hinge/actuator, which is mechanically simple, highly reliable, and highly damped during actuation, to provide a high-precision, repeatable deployment motion and locking. All future deployable optical systems for military, scientific, and commercial applications must meet similar and extremely stringent pointing accuracy and jitter requirements. Furthermore, the active alignment control systems for these optics must compensate for similar dynamic phenomena such as nonlinear microdynamics. The proposed program addresses the shortcomings of current precision deployment mechanisms with an innovative high-precision, self-locking actuator incorporating a "smart" EMC active element. The proposed design is simple, with no mechanical interfaces from which microdynamic instabilities can originate, and it provides a positive lock at the end of deployment without the use of a latching mechanism.