Author Topic: 2017 BIG Idea Challenge Finalists - in space assembly, solar electric tugs  (Read 817 times)

Offline savuporo

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Posters and presentations here:

Press here:

After a competitive proposal review and selection process, a panel of judges selected five teams to continue with their designs. Finalists include, Tulane University, the University of Colorado Boulder, a multi-university team consisting of students from Georgia Tech, the University of Texas at Austin and New York University, as well as two teams from the University of Maryland.

“These teams brought forth innovative approaches and impressive technical analysis for the design of modular solar electric propulsion orbit-transfer vehicles,” added Keith Belvin, principal technologist for structures, materials and nanotechnology in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and a judge for the challenge. “NASA plans to work with the students and their faculty advisors in development of their concepts to support space exploration beyond low Earth orbit.”

Teams will present their final concepts to a panel of NASA experts during the 2017 BIG Idea Forum, scheduled for Feb. 15-16 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

“The Tulane University team provided an unanticipated design solution for large SEP orbit transfer vehicles,” said Keith Belvin, BIG Idea judge and principal technologist for structures, materials and nanotechnology for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “They exceeded our goals for novel SEP vehicles constructed using autonomous robotic assembly.”
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Asteroza

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Tulane concept is interesting from a packaging perspective, but how does it handle the disparity between sun and thrust vectors? Gimballed thrusters only have +/- 50 and 25 degrees respectively so all sorts of nonideal thrusting. I suppose in deep space you can keep a stable offset angle but LEO climbout is going to be unfriendly.

Is there a modular SEP tug design arrangement like the Tulane concept, which can scale out beyond 4 modules, and doesn't have the sun pointing problem or doesn't suffer from from the shadowing from PV arrays like in most venetian blind style multi-PV-panel modular tug setups?