PROPOSAL NUMBER 00-1 18.01-8314 (Chron: 001687 )
Thermally Formed Deployable Self-Rigidizing Polyimide Structures

Common to all large space telescope system concepts is the need for extremely light weight and low packaging volume. Lightweight accurately deployable structures that maintain rigidity and require no operational maintenance are needed to support large space telescope components and systems/subsystems. Various candidate structures have been proposed and some demonstrations performed on inflatable pressurized structures or expanding foams processed on-orbit. All have the drawback of requiring on-orbit gas maintenance or a chemical process, both of which add significant mass and complexity. A new innovative structure concept using a space qualified thermally formed flexible thin film polyimide to produce large ultra-lightweight inflation deployed self-rigidizing, high strength, low packaging volume structural components is proposed for development and demonstration. This material can be thermally formed to virtually any shape and can be utilized to produce booms, elbows, tees, flanges, and flat or curved panels. A structure subsystem for a typical mission application will be identified, designed, fabricated, tested/evaluated, and deployment demonstrated (sub scale for Phase I) to prove the concept. This structure will be folded, packaged and inflation deployed to validate that structural integrity and accuracy are maintained. A full scale system can be designed/fabricated/demonstrated during Phase II.

Thermally formed self-rigidizing structures offer significant mass and stored-volume advantages over more-conventional designs. Although the proposed Phase I effort will be directed specifically towards deployable structures for large space telescopes, other space applications include solar sail deployment/support structure; support structure and substrate for large solar reflectors; lightweight space deployable radiators; and satellite communications antennae. Commercial opportunities abound for similar concepts that can provide emergency shelters; airfoil and fuselage panels for model aircraft (recreational) and remote controlled target aircraft (military training); easily transported and erected domes for sports activities, trade shows, etc.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Larry J. Bradford
CAT Flight Services, Inc.
2400 Bob Wallace Ave. SW, Suite 203
Huntsville , Al   35805 - 4774

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
CAT Flight Services, Inc.
2400 Bob Wallace Ave. SW, Suite 203
Huntsville , AL   35805 - 4774