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A spaceship will assemble its own solar panels in space: Archinaut One



As I have already mentioned in several episodes, humankind is in a transitional phase where it makes sense to move material from Earth's gravity into orbit and beyond. But it's really expensive and costs up to $ 10,000 per pound you want in orbit and ten times if you want it on the moon.

In the coming decades, however, more and more of our space-based infrastructure will be built in space and made of materials that were mined in space .

The only thing that is really needed to overcome Earth's adhesive gravity is us, the people, the tourists who want to visit all of these space infrastructure.

To achieve this space future, engineers and mission planners must, of course, design and engineer the technology that makes this possible.

This means testing new prototypes, technologies, and methods for mining and space-based manufacturing.

This is an example of the kind of telecommunications satellites that are regularly launched into space. The size and shape of the solar panels depends on the reality, which brings the gravity of the earth … to puke. Each built spaceship must be able to handle the full gravity on Earth during the test phase.

Then it must be able to handle the brutal acceleration, shaking, and other launching forces. Once it reaches orbit, it must deploy its solar panels into a configuration that can generate power for the spacecraft.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be placed on June 20, 2017 in the historic Chamber A of the Johnson Space Center. Credit: NASA / JSC

As always, all I have to do is say the words: James Webb Space Telescope They panic and panic, imagining the complexity and origami precision more than a million kilometers from Earth a place that can not be maintained.

  Artist illustration of TESS and its 4 telescopes. Picture credits: NASA / MIT
Artist concept of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and its 4 telescopes. Credit: NASA / MIT

Now take a look at the illustration of this artist, which shows a satellite whose solar modules were fully orbitalized and never exposed to Earth's gravity. They are weird and incredibly big. And as it turns out, efficient and cost-effective.

Imagine the International Space Station with three times longer solar panels, which are still perfectly stable and stable in the microgravity environment of the near-Earth orbit.

This is the technology that made Made in Space Archi-naut One our first trial in 2022, bringing us one step closer to the space-based manufacturing I do.

In July 2019, NASA announced that Made In Space, a 3D production company based in Mountain View, California, had received $ 73.7 million.

Illustration of Archinaut One with its panels inserted. Credit: Made In Space

This contract will help finance the construction and launch of the company's Archinaut One spacecraft, which will demonstrate the manufacture and assembly of spacecraft components in space.

You will build a spacecraft that has these characteristics and will build its own power system. In space.

If all goes well, Archinaut One will fly into space in 2022 with a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand.

The electron rocket launches on Sunday afternoon at 14:42 New Zealand time. Picture credits: Rocket Lab

Once the spacecraft reaches orbit, it will build two ten-meter-long solar panels sufficient to power an industry-standard 200 kg satellite. This type of satellite serves as a secondary payload for larger takeoffs. Generally they are underserved and only have a few hundred watts of power at their disposal.

Archinaut One prints the stringers in 3D and then unfolds the solar panels on both sides of the spacecraft.

By producing the entire array in space, the smaller satellite will have the energy capacity of a much larger spacecraft – five times the energy that can drive more scientific instruments, communication tools, and more.

This is useful here in Earth orbit, but makes sense Even deeper into the solar system, where the amount of solar energy that is available to a spaceship decreases.

An artistic presentation of Juno in orbit around Jupiter. Photo credits: NASA

The NASA spacecraft Juno is currently visiting Jupiter. The 4-tonne spacecraft has three 9-meter solar panels with 18,698 solar cells. Here on earth, they can generate 14 kilowatts of electricity. However, in Jupiter's orbit, the solar cells receive only 1/25 of the amount of sunlight they can work with.

NASA has invested in various technologies that they call "tipping points." These are technologies that are too risky or too complicated for aerospace companies to be profitable. However, if NASA can reduce the risks, they could benefit from commercial space exploration.

Test of additive manufacturing of Archinaut in a simulated space environment. Credit: Made In Space

This was the second contact Made in Space received for the Archinaut program. The first contract, which was already awarded in 2016, involved a ground-based test by Archinaut.

It was placed in the Northrop Grumman thermal vacuum test environment, which can mimic the temperature extremes and low pressure of near-space vacuum.

In the chamber, Archinaut was able to produce and assemble various structures. It has been shown that prefabricated components such as knots and trusses can be assembled completely autonomously and various repair processes can be carried out.

With the test no longer in the way, the next step will be to test the technology in space, with Archinaut One ideally being rolled out by 2022.

In addition to the Archinaut program, NASA has collaborated with Made A few years in space.

The most well known of these is the Additive Manufacturing Facility (or AMF), which is currently on board the International Space Station. It arrived in March 2016 and is upgrading the station's previous printer. [19659002] In recent years, this printer has produced dozens of objects in the microgravity environment of the orbit of polyethylene. However, the AMF can print with various materials such as metals and composites.

Partnering with Made in Space, NASA can manufacture replacement parts and repair broken parts of the station in orbit. However, it also allows Made in Space to test its more ambitious plans for space-based manufacturing.

The NASA logo was made from aluminum by the Vulcan system. Credit: Made In Space

In 2018, NASA awarded them an Innovation Research Award for Phase 2 small businesses for their volcanic manufacturing system. This is a space-based manufacturing system that can work with 30 different raw materials, such as aluminum, titanium or plastic composites, to print 3D objects.

Vulcan will also be able to subtract materials and process parts to their final shapes. And everything is done robotically. The goal is to bring high-strength, high-precision polymer and metal components in orbit to the same level of quality as the material you can buy here on Earth.

3D rendering of the Vulcan system. Picture credits: Made In Space

Made In Space also tests the technology for manufacturing optical fibers in space. These fibers carry a tremendous amount of data, but the signal needs to be amplified over longer transmission distances. There is a special kind of crystal called ZBLAN, which could have a tenth or even a hundredth of the signal loss of conventional fibers, but is difficult to produce in Earth gravity.

JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai with ZBLAN machine. Credit: NASA

An experiment recently delivered to the International Space Station will produce these ZBLAN fibers in space and hopefully produce up to 50 km at a time. Since the startup costs are falling, it may even make economic sense to make fiber optic cables in space and then bring them back to earth.

However, it is also very useful to keep them in space and to produce more sophisticated satellite hardware that is never known to earth gravity.

Made in Space is also working on a technology that converts polyethylene into new 3D printed objects. If it's so expensive to fly cargo into orbit, what you've already sent into space will be recycled, and it will not be thrown overboard to burn it in orbit. Made in Space works on it – the target a complete space-based manufacturing and assembly system.

In the future, satellites, telescopes and other space-based hardware will be developed here on Earth. Subsequently, the raw materials are brought into space with an archaic manufacturing system.

Archinaut manufactures all component parts with his 3D printer. Then they are assembled in space.

Made in Space offers two aromas of Archinaut that they currently offer. The DILO system looks like an octagonal canister surrounded by solar panels and sticking out of a robotic arm.

The canister contains all raw materials for a space-based communication antenna. The arm picks up folded reflector plates and then puts them together. 3D panels are used to fasten the panels. Then they are folded into a communication tray.

The spaceship then manufactures and extrudes a communications boom from its center with a 3D printer.

The more advanced version is called ULISSES. It's a version of Archinaut with three robot arms surrounding a 3D printer. The spaceship makes different binders and knots and then puts them together with his arms to ever larger structures. With this technology, they are really limited only by the amount of raw materials that the spaceship needs to work with.

It could build space telescopes with a diameter of tens or even hundreds of meters.

The parts come together for true space-based manufacturing and assembly. As early as 2022, a spaceship will assemble its own solar collectors in space, creating a structure that will never have to experience Earth's gravity.

In the coming years, larger and larger spaceships are almost completely built in orbit. And I hope that someday they will be made of material extracted from the solar system.

One day we will see the launch of the last cargo rocket. Last time, we took the trouble to get something out of Earth's massive gravity into space. From then on, it's just tourists.


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