Project

TESSERAE: Self-Assembling Space Architecture

Copyright

Ariel Ekblaw / Responsive Environments

Artist Rendering of TESSERAE (TU Dortmund)

The future of human habitation in space, from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to planetary systems far beyond, lies in self-assembling, adaptive, and reconfigurable structures. Rather than transporting the weight of gantries and risking astronaut Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), we can lower payload weight, reduce assembly complexity, and revolutionize space-structure modularity by relying on these new paradigms of construction and structure deployment. 

This project proposes a multi-year research effort to study, characterize, and prototype TESSERAE:  Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments. TESSERAE will function as multi-use, low-cost orbiting modules, thus supplying a critical space infrastructure for the next generation of zero gravity habitats, science labs, staging areas for on-surface exploration, and more. Unlike large-scale habitats proposed for entire space colonies, the TESSERAE should be thought of as flexible and reconfigurable modules to aid in agile mission operations. Our mission concept focuses on supporting Mars surface operations, wit… View full description

The future of human habitation in space, from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to planetary systems far beyond, lies in self-assembling, adaptive, and reconfigurable structures. Rather than transporting the weight of gantries and risking astronaut Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), we can lower payload weight, reduce assembly complexity, and revolutionize space-structure modularity by relying on these new paradigms of construction and structure deployment. 

This project proposes a multi-year research effort to study, characterize, and prototype TESSERAE:  Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments. TESSERAE will function as multi-use, low-cost orbiting modules, thus supplying a critical space infrastructure for the next generation of zero gravity habitats, science labs, staging areas for on-surface exploration, and more. Unlike large-scale habitats proposed for entire space colonies, the TESSERAE should be thought of as flexible and reconfigurable modules to aid in agile mission operations. Our mission concept focuses on supporting Mars surface operations, with multiple, interlocking TESSERAE acting as an orbiting base, in addition to supporting the coming waves of space tourists in Low Earth Orbit. 

An early TESSERAE prototype was successfully deployed on the Space Exploration Initiative's November 2017 zero gravity flight. This research mission validated the v1 mechanical structure, magnet polarity, and self-assembly protocol. An upcoming deployment on Blue Origin's suborbital launch platform will test the embedded sensor network, communication architecture between tiles, and additional parameters for self-assembly.

TESSERAE Peer-Reviewed Publications: 

2018 

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Copyright

Ariel Ekblaw