Three Dimensionally Reinforced Membranes for Space Inflatables & Deployables
NASA's Ultra Long Duration Balloon and Aerobot programs are seeking innovative and cost effective solutions to provide: high strength to weight composite envelope materials; efficient cost-effective seaming and fabrication techniques; deployment and inflation of balloon envelopes in planetary atmospheres; and innovative balloon design concepts. The proposed 3DR technology can meet all these challenges by providing: locally reinforced materials to optimize strength to weight; innovative gore fabrication and joining techniques to produce almost seamless structures; envelopes designed to efficiently handle multiple loading conditions including deployment and inflation; and adaptability to wide range of innovative designs and shapes. The project's phase I objectives include analysis of factors for a prototype mission, definition of the required process, design specifications, cost estimates and a Phase II fabrication plan. The Phase I effort evaluates the feasibility and develops the specifications for a prototype design. The Phase II effort demonstrates the technology with a prototype that is designed and tested for an actual mission. The successful Phase II demonstration will trigger the necessary investment to develop a commercially viable technology. NASA's investment in this cross enterprise technology supports several of its critical thrust areas and provides an enabling technology for new innovative applications.
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