Wednesday, 14 December 2011

SAM at REXUS Selection Workshop at ESA's ESTEC

Last week, Strathclyde's StrathSat-R traveled to ESA's ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands to present the sounding rocket experiment which should serve as a technology demonstrator for the Self-inflating Adaptive Membrane (SAM) concept. The workshop was organised by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Teams from across Europe presented their experiment proposals, there where 14 presentations in total, seven for the balloon and seven for the rocket. REXUS/BEXUS will probably select three to four experiments each. StrathSat-R's presentation went quite well and received good comments and suggestions from the expert selection board. REXUS/BEXUS will announce this Friday which experiments got selected for the upcoming campaign with a sounding rocket launch in March 2013.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Vacuum test of first prototypes

The first vacuum test of SAM’s hexagon elements was performed yesterday in the physics department of the University of Strathclyde. This vacuum test should prove if the residual air approach is working as expected. Furthermore, the test was used to validate the usability of various membrane materials and manufacturing techniques. The vacuum test showed that the residual air inflation works quite well and that the deformations observed are similar to the LS-DYNA simulation. The single hexagon seen in the picture is manufactured of two thin sheets of Mylar joined together by applied heat. Other prototypes were manufactured out of Kapton, polyethylene and solar film. Further research will focus on the improvement of the reliability of the seam lines.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Prototype manufacturing commences

Two weeks ago, manufacturing of inflatable samples started at the University of Strathclyde with the help of 4th year student Adnan Mahmood. The research is focused on the behaviour of various membrane materials and manufacturing techniques in regards to SAM. The materials tested are polyethylene, Mylar, Kapton and solar film. The first prototype of one hexagon was completed yesterday (see picture). For this afternoon, a first vacuum test is scheduled to investigate the deployment behaviour of the hexagon with the residual air approach.