This effort will further develop the active membrane spacecraft concept called “Brane Craft” initially studied in a NIAC Phase I grant. The Brane Craft is an essentially two-dimensional spacecraft with integrated solar cells, power system, communications, command and control, attitude determination, attitude control, electric propulsion, and shape control systems. The Phase II effort will analyze and document the benefits, limitations, mission operations, and size-scaling of Brane Craft for removal of orbital debris, and will attempt laboratory demonstrations of thin film electronics for communications, command and control, power conditioning, sensing, and shape control. They will identify the most promising fabrication technologies, develop a technology roadmap, and provide recommendations for further development.
Two sheets of kapton with propellant in between driving electospray ion thrusters.
Brane craft could be scaled to football field sized for possibly transporting humans to Mars in one month.