Deployable composite booms are particularly attractive in space constrained applications. Their high packaging volume efficiency enables relatively large spacecraft systems required for power generation, communications, or propulsion to be housed within small volumes. NASA’s new COROTUB boom is flattened, rolled, and stowed in a small package for easy transport to remote locations. When unfurled, it expands into a load-bearing structural boom.
COROTUB is a monolithic closed-section tubular thin-shelled structure that’s been shown to scale efficiently up to 50m yet maintain its strength. Its two corrugated thin shells form a closed section, which yields high bending and torsional stiffness, allowing for high dimensional stability.
Computational analysis and early tests show that the corrugation provides increased strength against buckling, enabling longer booms and targeting more demanding structural applications than noncorrugated designs.
The corrugation geometry that dictates the boom cross-section shape was informed by parametric studies to optimize the parameters that most influence the cross-sections area moment of inertia and torsional constant. The corrugated designs were found to improve the boom bending and axial strength and to shorten the length of the boom transition from flat/rolled to deployed.
Compared to other thin-shelled booms, COROTUB has improved stiffness, strength, and stability, while maintaining the package size as other booms. It might be erected from an orbiting satellite to hoist and support equipment; or may be unfurled to set up emergency shelters, communication towers, or masts for antennas or solar power in remote areas on other planets, the moon, or here on earth.