Crease-free biaxial packaging of thick membranes with slipping folds
This thesis presents a set of novel methods to biaxially package planar structures by folding and wrapping. The structure is divided into strips connected by folds that can slip during wrapping to accommodate material thickness. These packaging schemes are highly efficient, with theoretical packaging efficiencies approaching 100%. Packaging tests on meter-scale physical models have demonstrated packaging efficiencies of up to 83%. These methods avoid permanent deformation of the structure, allowing an initially flat structure to be deployed to a flat state. Also presented are structural architectures and deployment schemes that are compatible with these packaging methods. These structural architectures use either in-plane pretension – suitable for membrane structures – or out-of-plane bending stiffness to resist loading. Physical models are constructed to realize these structural architectures. The deployment of these types of structures is shown to be controllable and repeatable by conducting experiments on lab-scale models. These packaging methods, structural architectures, and deployment schemes are applicable to a variety of spacecraft structures such as solar power arrays, solar sails, antenna arrays, and drag sails; they have the potential to enable larger variants of these structures while reducing the packaging volume required. In this thesis, these methods are applied to the preliminary structural design of a space solar power satellite. This deployable spacecraft, measuring 60 m × 60 m, and with an areal density 100 g m−2, can be packaged into a cylinder measuring 1.5 m in height and 1 m in diameter. It can be deployed to a flat configuration, where it acts as a stiff lightweight support framework for multifunctional tiles that collect sunlight, generate electric power, and transmit it to a ground station on Earth.