Tethers Unlimited has several other projects besides SpiderFab for NASA NIAC. They are working on a rapid bridging system, improved radiation shielding and using picosats for better radio communications.
1. The US Army Awarded Tethers Unlimited (TUI) a $1 Millon contract to develop launchable anchor for Rapid Bridging Operations. The ARMY SBIR Program has awarded TUI a $1M Phase II contract to develop the “Remote Anchoring Module” (RAM). The RAM is designed to launch across rivers, ravines, and other obstacles using a standard mortar system, deploying a high-strength tether in between the launch site and the landing site. Upon landing, it will self-right itself and then drive an anchor into the surface, providing high anchoring forces to facilitate bridging operations and equipment transport.
The Phase I Versatile Structural Radiation Shielding (VSRS) Effort has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of 3D printing multifunctional spacecraft structures with integral multi-layer, multi-material, minimum-mass radiation shielding. We developed novel space-compatible materials to enable 3D printing with combinations of low-Z and high-Z materials, developed advanced FDM techniques to enable 3D printing with high-performance polymers and metal-entrained polymers. We demonstrated fabrication of components such as avionics covers that have integral graded-Z radiation shielding. Simulation with the GEANT4 3D model as well as irradiation testing indicate that VSRS provides shielding for with better than 3X the stopping power of aluminum shielding. We propose a Phase II effort to mature and qualify the VSRS technology to a flight-ready level for to enable its infusion into DoD space systems. We will integrate the high-Z materials developed in the Phase I with additional high-strength and conductive materials and develop a process for rapidly and affordably designing, analyzing, and fabricating multifunctional VSRS components that combine minimum-mass radiation shielding customized for the operational environment along with structural strength, EMI shielding, heat dissipation, electrical conduction, thermal insulation, and M/MOD protection. We will fabricate, qualify, and irradiation test prototype VSRS components including conformal electronics covers and avionics enclosures. BENEFIT: The Versatile Structural Radiation Shielding (VSRS) effort will develop materials and processes for using additive manufacturing (3D printing) with multiple materials to create spacecraft structures that integrate multifunctional capabilities, including graded-Z radiation shielding, EMI shielding, thermal shunts, multi-layer thermal insulation, and/or M/MOD protection. VSRS will enable responsive, low-cost fabrication of spacecraft components such as conformal covers, avionics enclosures, honeycomb panels, and even spacecraft’exoskeletons’with integral radiation shielding. VSRS will reduce the mass required for radiation shielding compared to conventional methods such as aluminum covers, and provide a responsive, low-cost means for improving the reliability of COTS and non-rad-hard components in space systems.
TUI proposes to complete the development of two novel technologies that will enable pico-satellites in LEO to efficiently close the link with standard issue handheld radios on the ground. The first technology is a dual-band software-defined radio (SDR) that will provide UHF SATCOM to soldiers on the ground and a unified S-band link for backhaul and spacecraft command and control. SDR-based processing will support multiple modes of operations to provide robust and reliable links, multi-user access, cognitive radio operations, and other advanced operating capabilities. The second technology is a deployable multi-band antenna with a range-compensating radiation pattern designed to provide a uniform power density to the entire view of the Earth from a Nadir pointing LEO spacecraft. Together, these two component technologies will provide a high performance communications capability to the US Army”s dismounted soldiers.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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