In recent years there has been a continuously growing interest in space missions conducted with miniaturized spacecraft, down to the nanosatellite class and beyond. However, these satellites are severely constrained by the small size and the consequent limitations of on-board resources make them inadequate to the vast majority of missions. In this context, we propose the realization of a standard docking mechanism for nanosatellites based on ElectroActive Polymers (EAPs) technology, that provides CubeSats with the capability to aggregate in orbit to form larger structures; at today, there is no qualified docking system for such category of satellites. This would enable scenarios where CubeSats can join together to generate multipart systems with the possibility to rearrange, be repaired or updated. The joining mechanism is designed to combine in a simple way the advantages of androgynous systems and the simplicity of probe-drogue configurations, through the docking ports shape-shifting capabilities, avoiding the need of a large amount of actuators usually employed in larger docking ports. The mechanism design and preliminary validation through numerical simulations is presented including 3-D modeling, kinematic, dynamic and structural analysis.

CONCEPTUAL DESIGN OF SMALL SPACECRAFT DOCKING MECHANISM ACTUATED BY ELECTROACTIVE POLYMERS

OLIVIERI, LORENZO;BRANZ, FRANCESCO;SAVIOLI, LIVIA;FRANCESCONI, ALESSANDRO
2013

Abstract

In recent years there has been a continuously growing interest in space missions conducted with miniaturized spacecraft, down to the nanosatellite class and beyond. However, these satellites are severely constrained by the small size and the consequent limitations of on-board resources make them inadequate to the vast majority of missions. In this context, we propose the realization of a standard docking mechanism for nanosatellites based on ElectroActive Polymers (EAPs) technology, that provides CubeSats with the capability to aggregate in orbit to form larger structures; at today, there is no qualified docking system for such category of satellites. This would enable scenarios where CubeSats can join together to generate multipart systems with the possibility to rearrange, be repaired or updated. The joining mechanism is designed to combine in a simple way the advantages of androgynous systems and the simplicity of probe-drogue configurations, through the docking ports shape-shifting capabilities, avoiding the need of a large amount of actuators usually employed in larger docking ports. The mechanism design and preliminary validation through numerical simulations is presented including 3-D modeling, kinematic, dynamic and structural analysis.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2554695
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