Origami-Inspired Packaging for Deployable Space Membranes

Researchers

Lee Wilson
Sergio Pellegrino

Sponsor

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Description

In the quest to design bigger and better space telescopes, origami is proving to be a useful source of inspiration. The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) proposed by Northrop Grumman required a sunshield to protect it from the harsh radiation environment in space. The sunshield would have to deploy axially with the telescope from a packaged length of 0.5m to a deployed length of 18m, as well as fit within the fairing during launch.

Black region corresponds to the area between the space telescope and the rocket fairing that the sunshield must package into during launch.

Black region corresponds to the area between the space telescope and the rocket fairing that the sunshield must package into during launch.

The Kresling design solution proposed consists of a series of identical triangles and can be optimised around material properties, volume constraints and surface area requirements. Compared to conventional designs, the new solution has fewer seams where heat leakage is greatest and can be manufactured from a single flat sheet of material.

Prototype of semi-folded sunshield

Prototype of semi-folded sunshield

Kresling crease pattern proposed for the sunshield.

Kresling crease pattern proposed for the sunshield.

Publications:

  • Wilson, L., Pellegrino, S. and Danner, R. (2013), Origami inspired concepts for space telescopes, 54nd AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference 9 April 2013, Boston, MA,