Residual air inflated systems for CubeSats

Clark, Ruaridh and Macdonald, Malcolm (2013) Residual air inflated systems for CubeSats. In: 64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, 2013-09-23 - 2013-09-27.

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This paper presents a case for the use of residual air inflated (RAI) structures on CubeSat platforms, focusing on the development of a high altitude, de-orbiting device that utilises this deployment method. Residual air inflation relies on small pockets of air, trapped within a sealed membrane, expanding when the structure is exposed to vacuum. This expansion of trapped air then inflates the membrane. The application of this deployment method for a technology demonstrator, to be flown on a European sounding rocket in March 2014, shall be discussed. The demonstrator is a proposed passive, high altitude, end-of-life, deorbiting system that utilises solar radiation pressure. The development of this device from analysis and design through to construction shall be covered with the particular challenges present on a CubeSat platform discussed. The paper shall conclude by proposing possible applications of CubeSat based RAI structures and deployment mechanisms, focusing on the potential for deployment mechanisms and debris capture structures.