This paper presents work on the development of an Origami-style solar panel technology. This approach increases a satellite’s solar array’s power generation surface area, given constrained space and mass. The same deployable structure (used for the solar panels) can also house a phased array on the reverse side. For a proposed Mars demonstration mission, this array is used for communications and microwave wireless power transmission. <p> </p>The design of the solution is presented in detail, including a discussion of the pre-deployment configuration, the deployment process, and the final configuration. The panels, prior to deployment, are folded around the square base of the spacecraft, covering all four of its sides. To deploy them, a slight circular motion can be introduced to use centrifugal force to cause each side to fold out from the side of the satellite. A simple hinge mechanism is used to interconnect the panels and inflatable tubes or wire that is designed to stiffen in a straightened orientation when electrified, are used to move the panels into their final position and provide rigidity. <p> </p>The efficacy of the proposed technology is considered in the context of the Martian mission. This demonstrates its mass and volume efficiency as well as the utility of the approach for enabling the mission. A qualitative analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of the approach is presented. A discussion of the technology’s overall impact on mission design is presented, before concluding with a discussion of the next steps for the research.
This paper presents work on the development of Origami-style solar panels and their adaption and efficacy for use in Earth orbit. It focuses on the enabling capability of this technology for the generation and transmission of power. The proposed approach provides increased collection (solar panel) and transmission (microwave radiation) surface area, as compared to other systems with similar mass and volume. An overview of the system is presented, including its pre-deployment configuration, the deployment process and its final configuration. Its utility for wireless power transmission mission is then considered. An economic discussion is then presented to consider how the mass and volume efficiencies provided enable the system to approach target willingness-to-pay values that were presented and considered in prior work. <p> </p>A key consideration regarding the use of wireless power transfer in Earth orbit is the reliability of the technology. This has several different areas of consideration. It must reliably supply power to its customers (or they would have to have local generation capabilities sufficient for their needs, defeating the benefit of this system). It must also be shown to reliably supply power only to designated locations (and not inadvertently or otherwise beam power at other locations). The effect of the system design (including the Origami structure and deployment / rigidity mechanisms) is considered to assess whether the use of this technology may impair either of these key mission/safety-critical goals. This analysis is presented and a discussion of mitigation techniques to several prospective problems is presented, before concluding with a discussion of future work.