Self-Assembling Space Habitats: TESSERAE design and mission architecture

Ekblaw, Ariel, and Joseph Paradiso. “ Self-Assembling Space Habitats:TESSERAE Technology and Mission Architecture for Zero-g Construction ” To appear in the Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference (2019).


Designs for adaptive, modular, and re-configurable space structures hold great promise for the evolving commercial space station market in LEO (Low Earth Orbit), for supporting Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway designs, and for facilitating the first human Mars missions. We propose an extensible self-assembly paradigm for in-orbit space habitat construction, discuss mission architectures uniquely facilitated by this approach to habitat design, and present a feasibility review and preliminary results from a proof-of-concept prototype. This paper details our habitat design and deployment planning around TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments). This technology demonstration mission explores several parameters for a self-assembling system (quasi-stochastic assembly, electro-mechanical bonding, clamping processes, responsive sensing and autonomous GNC, etc.) and includes a multi-year research effort to engineer and deploy test structures. The first prototype was successfully tested on a parabolic flight in November 2017 and is now scheduled for a second parabolic flight and initial sub-orbital launch in 2019. 

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