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12 June 2000 On-orbit experiments and applications of shape memory alloy mechanisms
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Spacecraft require a variety of mechanisms to accomplish mission-related functions such as deployment, articulation, and positioning. Current off-the-shelf devices such as pyrotechnic separation nuts, paraffin actuators, and other electro-mechanical devices may not be able to meet future satellite requirements, such as low shock and vibration, and zero contamination. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), with corporate and government partners, has developed Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) spacecraft release mechanisms and hinges as alternatives. In order to meet future goals, the SMA devices have been designed to reduce shock and vibration, reduce parts, and eliminate pyrotechnics. This paper will focus on descriptions and results of on-orbit SMA mechanism experiments and applications. AFRL has flown SMA release devices as part of the Shape Memory Alloy Release Device (SMARD) experiment on MightSat I. The SMARD experiment, that compared the shock and release times of two SMA devices with those of current off-the-shelf devices, was conducted in May 1999 with extremely successful results. In addition, four AFRL funded SMA release mechanisms successfully deployed the Air Force Academy FalconSat spacecraft from the Orbital Sub-Orbital Program Space Launch Vehicle in January 00. AFRL has also conducted an on-orbit experiment with SMA hinges. The hinges were flown as part of the Lightweight Flexible Solar Array program, that was a joint AFRL/DARPA/NASA/Lockheed Martin program to develop innovative solar array technologies. Six SMA hinges were launched as part of the LFSA experiment on the Space Shuttle Columbia in July 1999 with successful results.
© (2000) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Andrew C. Peffer, Eugene R. Fosness, Bernie F. Carpenter, and Keith K. Denoyer "On-orbit experiments and applications of shape memory alloy mechanisms", Proc. SPIE 3991, Smart Structures and Materials 2000: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies, (12 June 2000);


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