Lightweight Nanosatellite Deployable Array

Period of Performance: 11/01/2009 - 10/29/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Tethers Unlimited, Inc.
11711 N. Creek Pkwy S., Suite D113 Array
Bothell, WA 98011
Principal Investigator


We propose to develop a lightweight deployable array to enable nanosatellite-scale spacecraft to reliably deploy large-area solar arrays and antenna arrays to enable these small satellites to perform missions requiring high power and/or high gain communications. Although launch opportunities for smaller scale spacecraft are becoming much more common, the supporting subsystems required to utilize these options for anything more than a quick technology demonstration have proven to be challenging. The low powers and small antenna apertures currently available for nanosatellite scale systems restrict the mission utility of these platforms. Providing large deployable arrays for power and communications on small spacecraft is a challenging task, requiring specialized and refined techniques. We have identified two candidate structures for lightweight deployable arrays suitable for nanosatellite applications. Both concepts rely on familiar structural concepts, but incorporate significant modifications to enable their application to smaller scales. In the Phase I we will perform design and analysis to identify the option with the best balance of cost, mass, and performance. We will then build a full-scale proof-of-concept prototype to verify reliable deployment and mechanical performance.