Flux-Pinned Interface Technology Development Projects
Flux-Pinned Interfaces (FPI)s have a variety of applications that will be increasingly revelant to future space systems involving close-proximity operations. The Space Systems Design Studio is developing the hardware and systems necessary for implementing this project on actual space systems.
An important step in increasing the technology readiness level of flux-pinned interfaces for spacecraft is testing the technology in a relevant environment. For FPIs, the relevant dynamic environment will be in space, so simulating a cryocooled superconductor and microgravity are key. Thus, the SSDS team has flown two microgravity experiments with the goal of maturing FPIs so they can one day be used for missions in space.
To simulate a microgravity environment, specially fitted planes are used by NASA and private companies. The planes fly in repeated parabolic manuevers that last approximately 60 seconds each, shown in the figure above. These manuevers yield cycles of 30 seconds of microgravity followed by 30 seconds of 2g flight, making them very valuable for low-cost microgravity experiments and demonstrations.
Flux-Pinned, Non-Contacting Joints for Small Spacecraft Reconfiguration - 2009
In August 2009, the Cornell Flux-Pinning Microgravity team flew their first experiment through NASA's FAST program. The experiment demonstrated flux pinning in microgravity conditions and showed how flux pinning could be used to form a non-contacting revolute joint.
See the 2009 Microgravity Experiment page for more information about FAST 2009.
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Project RAGNAR - 2010
The Cornell Flux-Pinning Microgravity Team was selected for a second microgravity opportunity through NASA's FAST program. RAGNAR, or Robust, Autonomous Grappler for Non-contacting Actuation and Reconfiguration, was flown with higher-fidelity nanosat mockup modules on September 30 and October 1, 2010.
See the 2010 Microgravity Experiment page for more information about Project RAGNAR.
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