Sunday, 2 September 2012

On twitter now :)

I just signed up for twitter, follow us on #thomas_sinn for more frequent updates on the Self-inflating Adaptive Membrane.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

100k contract to company manufacturing inflatable rigidizing satellite parts

The company Space Ground Amalgam, LLC got awarded the first prize of $100,000 at last Saturday 's 2012 NewSpace Business Plan Competition (NASA funded). This competition has the purpose to help startup space companies that create potentially game-changing technologies. Space Ground Amalgam, LLC will look at inflatable antennas and rigidization techniques for very large structures. The company is in a partnership with the famous inflatable manufacturer L'Garde (CA, USA). They will also look into post rigidization optimization. Application areas are 30GHz antennas but it is planned to expand to solar arrays. Great to hear that there is research undertaken in inflatable structure with the industry backing it up. Lets see how SAM can benefit from this news :).



Thursday, 19 July 2012

SAM presented in ICES (San Diego, CA, USA) as part of Mars Base 10

New application areas of SAM were presented at this week’s AIAA International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) in San Diego. The paper had the title “Inflatable Structures for Mars Base 10” and was given in the Space Architecture Section. The paper covered inflation simulation of the Mars Base 10 which enables a crew of 10 astronauts to work permanently on the surface of Mars. Research on Mars Base 10 was first presented in 2008 by Ondrej Doule from the International Space University (Strasbourg, France). The Self-inflating Adaptive Membrane (SAM) has various application areas in and around Mars Base 10; they can be used as transmission antennas, solar concentrators adjusting the focal point based on the season to increase their efficiency or as sun shields also in form of small shelters to protect parts of Mars Base 10 or any deployed scientific, mining, or transportation hardware against radiation and Martian sand storms. They can be used for portable EVA shelters for crew as well as hardware. Further application may include also components of deployable exploration flyers and backup hardware. The big advantage of these structures is that they can be deployed out of a small container wherever, whenever they are needed. It is therefore not necessary to transport the deployed structure first into earth orbit and then to Mars. The transport of SAM in the storage box also decreases the risks of damaging the structure on the journey to Mars from micro meteoroids or high radiation environments for example in the van-Allen belts.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

SAM UK Space Agency Study finished

Over the last six month, researchers at the Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory of the University of Strathclyde were working on a UK Space Agency Study with the topic “CubeSat Low Cost Inter-Orbit Transfer Demonstrator”. SAM was one of the two proposed satellite missions that would enable low cost inter-orbit transfer. SAM would use hybrid propulsion consisting of a solar sail and an electric engine. The cube satellite membrane would employ the SAM membrane as a substructure with integrated solar cells powering the electric engines. The study showed that such a system would enable a low cost transfer of a 3U cube satellite from the Earth to the Moon. We are hoping for a follow-up study from the UK Space Agency for SAM to become UK’s next satellite UKube 3 or UKube 4.

StrathSat-R Critical Design Review

Last week, the StrathSat-R team had the Critical Design Review (CDR) at DLR Oberpfaffenhofen. The team presented the design and the status of the experiment and received feedback from experts from ESA, DLR and SNSB. Passing this CDR was an important step of getting closer to the rocket launch in March 2013. The StrathSat-R experiment will be on the REXUS 13 rocket together with the other European Experiments: Polecats and Space Sailors, and Muscats.

Furthermore, the pumps on the experiment got changed to stronger ones due to the requirement that all the actuation needs to be performed within 140 seconds of micro gravity time. The smaller pumps from earlier in the project were selected because the assumption was made that they would be suitable due to the low mass of the trapped air. Experiments showed that the trapped air mass is indeed low but the volume is large. Therefore, pumps with a higher mass flow rate should also be able to change the volume changing capabilities.

The research on SAM is currently focused on creating a Matlab code to simulate the actuation of the SAM membrane.  At the moment, the research is carried out parallel to attending the Space Studies Program (SSP) of the International Space University (ISU) in Melbourne, Florida in conjunction with the Florida Institute of Technology and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

First shape change tests in vacuum chamber

Today, vacuum tests for the spheres and the micro pumps were carried out to test the volume changing capabilities of SAM’s spheres. In the finished structure the volume change between two neighbouring spheres will result in a shape change of the entire structure. For today’s test two inflatable spheres were connected by a micro pump (Bartels Mikrotechnik GmbH) and tested first at ambient pressure and then in the vacuum chamber. It can be confirmed that the pumps worked in vacuum conditions, but the volume change was too slow (especially by considering the short micro gravity time of the sounding rocket experiment of roughly 140s). Further research will be focused on increasing the flow rate or maybe changing to more powerful pumps. Thanks to the Strathclyde students Thomas Perry and Paul Hammond for getting the micro pumps ready for today’s test.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

SAM on BBC2 Scotland

Yesterday night, a feature on Space-based Solar Power was aired on BBC2's Newsnight Scotland. The piece also shows Strathclyde's Self-inflating Adaptive Membrane together with the cube satellites, in the vacuum chamber and the simulation. Further references are made to Strathclyde's Suaineadh experiment which was launched in March this year and had the purpose to show the feasibility of deploying a web in space by using centrifugal forces.

The article:

Newsnight Scotland on BBC Iplayer (at around 14minutes):