Diminutive Assembly for Nanosatellite deploYables (DANY)

Diminutive Assembly for Nanosatellite deploYables (DANY) (GSC-TOPS-36)
Decreasing the risk of equipment damage and deployment failure for SmallSat owners
SmallSats (i.e., mass below 500 kg) are increasingly becoming big business. More than 100 global organizations across academia, governments, and industry are involved in the development of SmallSats of the nanosat/microsat variety (i.e., mass of 1-50 kg). According to SpaceWorks, up to 2,750 such nanosats/microsats will be launched from 2014 to 2020. To extract the most utility from these small packages, peripheral parts of the satellite (e.g., solar panels, antennae, sun shades, etc.) are deployed after a small sat is positioned in orbit. Meanwhile, these "deployables" are restrained close to the small sat body until extended using a release signal and mechanism.

The Technology
SmallSat designers seek to employ restraints and release mechanisms of minimal size and weight, often placing each on the outside of the SmallSat structure. Surprisingly, "fishing line" (released via burn through) is often used to secure and release deployables. Vibrations and forces generated during launch can stretch the fishing line, thus allowing these precious deployables to become damaged or otherwise not release properly later on. While these small sats are less expensive than their larger counterparts, satellite owners must minimize the chance that deployables are damaged or that deployment is unsuccessful. Five years ago, engineers at NASA GSFC faced these SmallSat deployment challenges and knew a better way must exist to prevent equipment damage and ensure successful release. Investigating a host of designs to minimize size, weight, and cost while maximizing communication and mechanical reliability, NASA's engineers created DANY (the Diminutive Assembly for Nanosatellite deploYables). NASA's DANY technology uses spring-loaded metal pins, a reliable burn-through mechanism, efficient bracketing, and a circuit board - all within a 3.0" x 1.3" x 0.2" volume (smaller than a stack of 10 business cards) - to reliably stow and release deployables on command. Using DANY, stowed deployables are securely fastened using the spring-loaded locking pins. Upon receiving a deployment signal, a plastic restraining link is burned through which allows the spring-loaded pins to release the deployable and simultaneously trigger a switch to signal a successful deployment event.
Firework Nova DANY stows solar panels, antennas, or even sunshades on CubeSats. Two DANY devices are placed next to a quarter to show their relative size (3" x 1.3" x 2")
  • Less Risk of SmallSat Damage: Where fishing line or similar solutions loosen equipment restraints through stretching, DANY greatly decreases the risk of restraint-facilitated damage during the vibration-laden launch process.
  • Less Risk of Failed Deployment: Where the aforementioned stretching creates other points of system failure, DANY greatly enhances the probability of successful deployment.
  • Space Savings: Through intelligent and elegant design, DANY provides superior performance while introducing very little mass to SmallSat systems.
  • Low Cost: While decreasing the risk of equipment failure is of high value to any SmallSat owner, DANY can be manufactured at very low expense using commercial-off-the-shelf parts.

  • DANY can be employed by any SmallSat designer in academia, government, and industry.
Technology Details

Similar Results
SmallSat Standardized Architecture
SmallSat Standardized Architecture is architecture that is modularized, pressurizable, thermally controlled spacecraft-designed to host ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) instrumentation in a terrestrial-like environment on orbit. The architecture takes advantage of a pressurizable volume for both spacecraft and payload systems. The pressurizable volume provides multiple benefits, primarily in thermal design. By maintaining one atmosphere of pressure inside the SmallSat, materials that might otherwise outgas and/or fail and/or cause significant contamination issues, are no longer a concern. This also means that certain vibration-absorbing materials/designs used in COTS hardware can be used on orbit. Additionally, printed circuit boards do not have to be redesigned for thermal requirements, plus conformal coating and contamination bake-outs are no longer required. The SmallSat architecture is designed to take advantage of the United States Air Force (USAF) Rideshare Program and the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adaptor (ESPA) ring. The ESPA ring comes in two sizes: standard and Grande. The architecture has two main configurations, one designed for the ESPA Grande, and the other for the standard ESPA ring. The ESPA Grande version is a hockey-puck-shaped spacecraft bus measuring approximately 40 inches in diameter and 20 inches in height. This version takes full advantage of the ESPA Grandes 300-kilogram capability per attachment point.
Spacecube in pieces.
SmallSat Common Electronics Board (SCEB) Complement Board Design: Memory Card
The innovation is a miniaturized memory board that will have up to 96 GB of NAND Flash memory along with either a radiation tolerant FPGA or a set of three commercial FPGAs. The memory board is designed to interface with the standard subsystems of Goddards Modular SmallSat Architecture (GMSA). While previous memory cards are larger, this one is designed to fit within a 1U form factor.
Lightweight, Self-Deployable Helical Antenna
NASA's newly developed antenna is lightweight (at or below 2 grams), low volume (at or below 1.2 cm3), and low stowage thickness (approx. 0.7 mm), all while delivering high performance (at or above 10 dBi gain). The antenna includes a novel design-material combination in a helical coil conformation. The design allows the antenna to compress for stowage (e.g., satellite launch), then self-deploy at the desired time in orbit. NASA's lightweight, self-deployable helical antenna can be integrated into a thin-film solar array (or other large deployable structures). Integrating antenna elements into deployable structures such as power generation arrays allows spacecraft designers to maximize the inherently limited resources (e.g., mass, volume, surface area) available in a small spacecraft. When used as a standalone (i.e., single antenna) setup, the the invention offers moderate advantages in terms of stowage thickness, volume, and mass. However, in applications that require antenna arrays, these advantages become multiplicative, resulting in the system offering the same or higher data rate performance while possessing a significantly reduced form factor. Prototypes of NASA's self-deployable, helical antenna have been fabricated in S-band, X-band, and Ka-band, all of which exhibited high performance. The antenna may find application in SmallSat communications (in deep space and LEO), as well as cases where low mass and stowage volume are valued and high antenna gain is required.
NLAS Cubesat
Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System
NLAS consists of three configurable subsystems to meet the needs of a multi-spacecraft launch. The Adapter is the primary structure that provides volume for secondary payloads between the rocket and the primary spacecraft. The Adapter takes advantage of the frequently unused volume within the rocket fairing. It fits up to 4 NLAS Dispenser units, or 8 eight Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployers (P-PODs), or any combination thereof. The NLAS Dispenser is reconfigurable to support either two 3U bays or a single 6U bay and is compatible with 1U, 1.5U, 2U, 3U, and 6U satellites. The Dispenser system is the first 6U deployment system backwards compatible to 3U spacecraft. Finally, the NLAS deployment Sequencer is an internally powered subsystem which accepts an initiation signal from the launch vehicle and manages the actuations for each deployment device per a user programmable time sequence. It is programmed using ground support equipment (GSE) and a simple graphical user interface (GUI) on a computer.
Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Drifts Down to U.S.
Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team
Dellingr 6U CubeSat
A NASA team gave itself just one year to develop, test and integrate a CubeSat that could reliably and easily accommodate agency-class science investigations and technology demonstrations at a lower cost. The CubeSat known as Dellingr, a name derived from the god of the dawn in Norse mythology will carry three heliophysics-related payloads. It doubles the payload capability of the ubiquitous and proven three-unit, or 3U, CubeSat pioneered by the California Polytechnic Institute in 1999 primarily for the university community. The need for such a platform, which measures about 12 inches long, nearly 8 inches wide and 4 inches high, was for more cost-effective approaches to achieve compelling Earth and space science. Disadvantages of the 3U size include more constraints on volume and power. Furthermore, some studies suggest that previous CubeSats failed 40 percent of the time. By doubling the platform's girth, increasing its power capacity, and employing novel processes to increase its on-orbit reliability, the team believes it will have created a platform capable of carrying out more robust missions for science. Once successfully demonstrated, the team says it will make the platform's design implemented with low-cost, commercial off-the-shelf parts available to any U.S. organization interested in using it.
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