Extendible Support Structures

Extendible Support Structures  

Stiff and stable deployment of large sensors is best accomplished with a purpose-built folding truss, and Northrop Grumman is a world leader in producing such systems.

For example, Northrop Grumman was selected by Ball Aerospace to design and build the Reflector Deployment Assembly for the Global Precipitation Measurement Microwave Imager. The RDA is a folding, statically determinate hexapod truss used to support a 1.2-meter-diameter reflector dish.

Our RDA structure exceeded the stringent requirements for placement repeatability (less than 0.001 inches, 3-sigma, more than10 deployments) and thermal stability (less than 0.01 inches and 18 arcsec each axis over each orbit). Deployment is powered and controlled by a robust spring/damper drive unit that, once deployed, does not apply loading to the structure to ensure that the final reflector position is driven entirely by the precision of the folding struts.

Northrop Grumman also produced the Extendible Support Structure for the RADARSAT-2 mission for MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates and the Canadian Space Agency. The structure is currently in service in a wide variety of roles, including sea-ice identification and ship routing, iceberg detection, agricultural crop monitoring, marine surveillance for ship and pollution detection, terrestrial defense surveillance and target identification, and surface mapping.

Performance Features

  • Linear, preloaded structures
  • Sub-millimeter deployment precision and stability
  • Active or passive fully controlled deployments
  • Predictable, deterministic structures
  • Passive compensation of satellite or bus distortion

Application Benefits

  • Ideal for 1 m2 to 100 m2 structures
  • Motor- or spring-driven deployment
  • On-orbit retraction capability
  • Performance validated at subscale level

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