[updated: March 2017]

The right figure describes the procedure of research on space verification of combined membrane structure. Starting from considering the concept, we design the structure, conduct numerical analysis, experiment in our laboratory, experiment in a vacuum chamber, experiment under micro-gravity environment, modify the design if necessary, manufacture the flight model, conduct the space verification, and plans the higher level mission if the spaceverification is sccessful. This is an ideal procedure for us.

Our Laboratory is mainly proceeding the following three research topics. You can see the summary of each topic by clicking the title.

  1. Establishment of Construction Theory of Large Gossamer Space Structure System and Quest for Feasible Construction Scenario (supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A), MEXT. FY2018-2020)
  2. Research and development of re-configurable space system with variable shpe (supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A), MEXT. FY2017-2019. Leader: Prof. Saburo Matunaga in Tokyo Institute of Technology)
  3. Realization of cutting-edge space structure system

Each of these research topics is independent of each other, but the motivation underlying them is that

Let's realize large ultra-light deployable space structure!

If we can store large and light-weight staff into small volume and deploy it to large area in space, we can do much more in space.

Large area and ultra-light structureSolar sail, Membrane antenna, Low radio frequency antenna
Large and high specific stiffness structure Antenna or mast for measurement of space environment, Membrane antenna, Solar panel, sun shield, Star shade
Large aperture and high precision structureHigh radio frequency antenna, space telescope (X-ray, infrared ray), and their support structure
Extremely large structureSpace solar power system

We think the research on space structure in Japan can be classified into four topics as shown in the right table. These are different from each other in terms of the level of the requirement for the structure, e.g. the shape accuracy (repeatability) and shape stability against the on-orbit disturbance. Indeed one topic include various levels of requirement. The level depends on the application, and the orbit environment is probably different for each satellite. Fufthermore, the construction method is quite serious problem for extremely large structure as well as the structure itself.

Looking at such situation, we are considering to show the vision for the realization of cutting-edge space structure, especially large and ultra-light deployable structure that we think quite important, to form the research/developmentutilization/human resource development of space structure engineering in Japan, and to improve this research field intending the international collaboration.

College of Science and Technology, Nihon University
Department of Aerospace Engineering
Space Structure Systems Laboratory
College of Science and Technology, Nihon University
7-24-1 Narashinodai, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8501, Japan
e-mail: asel (at) forth.aero.cst.nihon-u.ac.jp