The objective of this work was to develop an innovative deployable boom/structure technology that is ultra-lightweight (<30-grams/meter potential), and has extremely compact stowage volume (>100:1 compaction ratio), broad scalability (no size limits envisioned), high deployed frequency, high deployed strength, good thermal/dimensional stability, reliable/immediate and repeatable controlled deployment, high stiffness maintained during the entire deployment sequence, affordability (simple, easily produced tubular structure, very low parts count, and proven tube manufacture provides low cost and rapid assembly), space environmental survivability, and broad mission applicability.

An affordable and ultra-lightweight, elastically self-deployable Roll-Out Boom technology was developed that provides affordability and mission-enabling performance features for current and future NASA missions. The Roll-Out Boom technology provides a significant performance increase and is made of highly conductive composite materials. It is applicable as an improved direct replacement for competing deployable structures, and is flexible in geometry, length, section, material, and construction to meet the most demanding mission requirements.

The Roll-Out Boom is highly applicable as an enabling deployable structure for electric field sensors, antennas, gravity gradient booms, and magnetometer booms, or as a deployable structural platform for solar arrays, sunshades, and/or other proprietary payloads. The technology innovation is applicable for practically all NASA and non-NASA missions as a direct replacement for classical, state-of-the-practice deployable structure technologies. The roll-up boom technology utilizes the elastic material’s strain energy for deployment force motivation with very minimal mechanization required, then deploys into a deep cylindrical tubular section that exhibits high deployment strength and stiffness.

The novel innovations are primarily focused on the composite structure materials, the deployment control methods implemented, and the flexibility provided when configured to numerous applications. The boom technology is particularly suited for missions that require game-changing performance in terms of affordability, low mass, and compact stowage volume.

This work was done by Brian Spence and Mark Douglas of Deployable Space Systems, Inc. for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16922-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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