If our radar reflector begins stowed, some kind of mechanism will have to be used to deploy it. Some questions arose when first discussing this idea:
- Will the deployment by active or passive (i.e will the deployment be powered (servo, etc..), or unpowered (springs, etc..))?
- Will the deployment happen automatically, or will it be the result of a signal sent from the ground?
Pondering this led to another question: What are the regulations surrounding the deployment of mechanisms on a cubesat being dispatched from a spacecraft? Many cubesats have deployable solar panels, antennas, lens caps, etc.., are they permitted to be deployed immediately, or is there a delay of some sort to prevent entanglement of closely dispatched satellites?
the team brainstormed during the meeting and we came up with the following ideas:
- Electromagnets, used to hold the structure in the stowed position, will be deactivated, allowing springs to apply a force, unfolding the structure
- A form of thin wire, small enough to be disintegrated when a high current passes through it, will hold the spring-loaded structure in the stowed position. As the wire breaks, the structure can unfold
- Memory wire (An alloy that reforms to its original shape when heated), could be used to hold the spring-loaded structure in the stowed position. The heat of the sun, in conjunction with the lack of dissipation of heat in the vacuum environment, could lead to the wire becoming hot enough to reform. This reformation would allow the structure to unfold
Obviously more research is required, especially into the regulations that surround what devices are permitted aboard the spacecraft.