On-Orbit Assembly of Large Space Structures: A Mars Aerobrake Mock-up Study

by Gordon K. F. Lee, North Carolina State Univ, Raleigh, United States,
Dave Anderson, North Carolina State Univ, Raleigh, United States,
Lisa Rockoff, North Carolina State Univ, Raleigh, United States,
John Garvey, North Carolina State Univ, Raleigh, United States,
Juri Filatovs, North Carolina State Univ, Raleigh, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III

Abstract: As design requirements for space structures become larger in dimension, the issues of shipping and assembling these structures in space become more critical. One example of such a structure is a Mars aerobrake which may have dimensions on the order of 32 meters by 27 meters. An option for delivering such large structures to space entails shipping them in pieces followed by on-orbit assembly. This paper presents results of a series of underwater neutral buoyancy tests that address several on-orbit assembly issues using a Mars aerobrake mock-up. The design and fabrication phases of the project took place at the Mars Mission Research Center, colocated at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University. The testing and evaluation phases of the project took place at the McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company's Underwater Test Facility in Huntington Beach, California. The results indicate that on-orbit assembly of large space structures by astronauts and robotics systems is a viable approach to placing large structures in space.

Subject Headings: Space structures | Space frames | Mars | Robotics | Freight transportation | Colleges and universities | Buoyancy | North America | California | United States

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