Lightweight Auto-Inflating Self-Rigidizing Booms
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
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11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A, Lakewood, CO, 80215
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractLightweight Auto-Inflating Self-Rigidizing Booms (LAISRB) is a key technology to enable large space ?gossamer? structures such as radiometer or radar antennas or solar sails. In Pioneer Astronautics LAISRB concept, inflatable tubes containing a small amount of methanol and a UV-curing self-hardening resin are deployed in a canister attached to the gossamer structure. Upon reaching deployment orbit, the canister is opened. The methanol contained in the booms will then vaporize deploying the booms. Once the balloons are deployed, they will be exposed to the ultraviolet radiation environment of space, which will cause the booms to harden. Once hard, the booms will remain rigid even after the methanol fluid used to inflate them leaks out to the vacuum of space. The advantage of the LAISRB is that the inflation system requires no high pressure gas storage devices, pyro valves, or other heavy, expensive, and failure prone equipment, and the hardening of the boom is automatic once exposed to the ultraviolet environment of space. The system thus promises to be lightweight, cheap, and very reliable.
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