Active Deployment of Ultra-thin Composite Booms with Piezoelectric Actuation
ACTIVE AND PASSIVE SMART STRUCTURES AND INTEGRATED SYSTEMS XVII, Vol. 12483.
The efficacy of using piezoelectric actuators to initiate the dynamic deployment of bistable composite tape springs is evaluated in this paper. Ultra-thin composite booms such as tape springs and their cross-sectional variants have seen increased popularity in spacecraft structures due to enabling the precise deployment of flexible solar arrays, sails, reflectors, and antennas. They can elastically transition between the deployed “extended” position and the stowed “coiled” position while retaining superior stiffness, thermal properties, mass efficiency, and compactness when compared to thin-shelled metal booms and rigid articulated columns. Bistability in the coiled and extended states allows the boom to exhibit more controllable self-deployment and become reconfigurable, which could allow spacecraft to relocate, redeploy, and adapt to changing environmental conditions or mission objectives. Deployment systems commonly include motors and mechanical restraints that significantly contribute to mechanical complexity and spacecraft weight. Since bistable booms do not rely on elastic instability of packaging to initiate motion, a non-intrusive and lightweight actuation mechanism is needed to trigger deployment. This paper experimentally demonstrates how a Macro Fiber Composite (MFC) actuator can statically and dynamically excite a stowed composite tape spring to initiate unrolling into its extended state.