Doctoral Research

Technology for Modular Spacecraft

We envision incorporating flux pinning into an interface that allows spacecraft modules to lock together without physical contact. These modules might, for instance, form a sparse-aperture telescope without many of the challenges associated with traditional formation flight. My personal flux-pinning vision involves modular space stations that are held together by a flux-pinned "virtual structure" rather than tangible trusses.

Flux-pinned modular station

A modular spacecraft composed of CubeSats connected by flux-pinning force field interactions. CubeSats because we have demonstrated flux pinning concepts on the nanosatellite scale, and Saturn because it's cool.

In the near future, flux-pinned interfaces may prove useful for spacecraft docking applications. They would provide a high degree of passive stability and robustness, and a little more work could extend this application to passive self-assembly in orbit. Before I joined the lab, an undergraduate team demonstrated (YouTube movie) this concept with mock-up modules on an air table. (Notice how stiff the connection is - the modules act as if they are clamped together, yet they never come closer to one another than about 1 cm!)

Recent laboratory work involves developing air-levitated, nanosatellite-scale mockup vehicles to demonstrate flux-pinned assembly and reconfiguration in 3 degrees of freedom and microgravity "Vomit Comet" projects to demonstrate flux pinning spacecraft concepts in freefall.

You can read more about this and other research at www.spacecraftresearch.com


Content of this site copyright Joseph Shoer unless otherwise noted.
This is the personal web space of Joseph Shoer and any opinions or conclusions presented here are his alone.