Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Rock West Composites Ships First Set of Solar Array Substrate/Back-Up Structure Assemblies for the DiskSat Program

Rock West Composites (RWC) delivered four combination solar array substrate/back-up structure assemblies to Aerospace Corporation in support of the DiskSat Program this month. DiskSat is a NASA-funded technology demonstration program that seeks to verify the performance and deployment method of this new small-spacecraft platform. The disk-shaped satellite design has the potential to revolutionize smaller space missions through its high power, large aperture form factor that fits in the circular cross-section of a rocket fairing. By using its own off-the-shelf, space-grade STRATO products, RWC was able to significantly reduce lead time and cost, while helping define structural properties to support the mission’s innovations. If successful, follow-on missions are possible, and other prime contractors may look to use a similar form factor for volumetric and weight efficiencies.

Providing additional services for this build-to-print program, the RWC engineering team consulted on the design including layup, material selection, insert design, bonding methods, and manufacturing strategy. RWC used its own product, the STRATOSubstrate™ LEO class, to ensure a cost-effective solar array substrate. The team used an insert design that allowed for self-fixturing to a tight tolerance, avoiding a costly assembly fixture. The tolerances on the in-plane and out-of-plane inserts match to a global datum scheme, and tolerances were on the order of 0.010-0.020″ positional.

Also Read : Projects Flying to Space Station on NG-20 Will Include Tissue Chips, Artificial Retina Production, a New Supercomputer, and More

The use of STRATOSubstrate LEO panel blanks significantly reduced raw material and blank lead time. STRATOSubstrate LEO class panels use HR40/NB321 unidirectional prepreg, NB301 film adhesive, perforated aluminum honeycomb core, and 0.002″ HN Kapton. The inserts for the deliverable were BR-127 primed aluminum bonded with EA9394. The final assembly measures approximately one meter in diameter and 25 centimeters in thickness.

“Saving our customer cost and lead time for this innovative and game-changing program by using our STRATOSubstrate LEO class of panels is exactly why we developed the STRATO product line,” said Jeremy Senne, RWC’s Space Segment Director. “We are excited about the potential for this new form factor in the exploration of space.”


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