A Spacecraft Is Going To Assemble Its Own Solar Panels In Space: Archinaut One

Universe Today | 6/20/2017 | Staff
lukealukea (Posted by) Level 4
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As I’ve mentioned in several episodes now, humanity is in a bit of a transition period, a time when it makes sense to launch material up and out of Earth’s gravity well into orbit, and beyond. But it’s really expensive, costing up to $10,000 per pound you want in orbit, and 10 times if you want it on the Moon.

But over the coming decades, more and more of our space-based infrastructure will be built in space, manufactured out of materials that were mined in space.

Thing - Earth - Clingy - Gravity - Humans

The only thing that’ll actually need to leave the Earth’s clingy gravity well will be us, the humans, the tourists, wanting to visit all that space infrastructure.

Of course, in order to achieve that space future, engineers and mission planners will need to design and construct the technology that will make this possible.

Prototypes - Technologies - Methodologies - Mining - Manufacturing

That means testing out new prototypes, technologies and methodologies for mining and space-based manufacturing.

This is an example of the kind of telecommunications satellite that’s regularly launched into space. The size and shape of its solar panels are dependent on the reality that Earth’s gravity… sucks. Any spacecraft built needs to be able to handle the full gravity down here on Earth, throughout the testing phase.

Acceleration - Forces - Launch - Orbit - Panels

Then it needs to be able to handle the brutal acceleration, shaking and other forces of launch. Once it reaches orbit, it needs to unfold its solar panels into a configuration that can generate power for the spacecraft.

As always, I just need to say the words, James Webb Space Telescope, to put you into a state of panic and dread, imagining the complexity and origami precision that needs to happen more than a million kilometers from Earth, in a place that can’t be serviced.

Look - Artist - Illustration - Satellite

Now, take a look at this artist’s illustration of a satellite whose...
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