Spiderfab 3D printers creating large in-space antenna structure

Tethers Unlimited of Bothell, Washington is developing a system to fabricate solar arrays in space, using a combination of 3D printing and automated composite layup. The system, which Tethers Unlimited calls Trusselator, is based on the Spiderfab technology which Tethers Unlimited has been developing under funding from DARPA and NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program. The Trusselator system will enable the deployment of large solar arrays providing many tens or hundreds of kilowatts for solar-electric propulsion missions and space solar power systems.

Trusselator is one of four projects being funded under NASA Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts signed by Tethers Unlimited this week.

Another funded project is SWIFT-NanoLV, which will develop a suite of low-cost, lightweight, compact, and reliable avionics for small launch vehicles. Last year, NASA said that there is a “technology gap” in small-launch-vehicle avionics, which it cited as the reason for canceling the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge before the competition even began.

Also funded are SWIFT-HPX, which will develop a Ka-band transceiver to provide high-speed (100 megabit-per-second) cross-links and downlinks for nanosatellites, and SPIDER (Sensing and Positioning on Inclines and Deep Environments with Retrieval), which will develop robotic technologies to traverse craters, ravines, and other difficult terrain on asteroids and planetary bodies using anchored tethers.

Written by Astro1 on May 22nd, 2013 , Innovation

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COMMENTS
    Steve commented

    Cool stuff, but this part is perhaps not saying what is actually intended:
    “Trusselator is one of four projects being funded under NASA Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts which Tethers Unlimited signed this week.”
    That makes it sound like Tethers Unlimited got ALL FOUR of those contracts, which I doubt.
    Perhaps the wording should be like this?
    ‘Tethers Unlimited signed this week a contract for their Trusselator, which is one of four projects being funded under NASA Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts.’

    Reply
    May 23, 2013 at 10:17 am
      Astro1 commented

      No, that is correct. Tethers Unlimited won funding for four projects.

      Reply
      May 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm
    Dushko Basheski commented

    This Idea was already seen by NASA former projects in History !!!
    This is the link of that:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sGYULzoQCgA/RqbVy_kKk5I/AAAAAAAAA5I/5xj9-5E1W6Q/s400/1979+space+spider+paleo-future.jpg

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    Does any body in the world think about Deflector Shield ?

    Reply
    May 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm
      Astro1 commented

      That is merely a device for constructing aluminum beams from sheet metal, not a 3D printer.

      Reply
      May 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm