Reusable Structural Component for Space Utilization

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Aerospace & Defense
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The design presented is based on the continued need for providing structural elements in space at optimum cost, appropriate utilization and reutilization. This concept describes a simple flanged beam with interlocking edges. When placed together, the geometry results in a cylindrical structure that, as shown in the drawings, provides the main section of an unmanned space craft.

This cylindrical structure is topped with an instrument and aerodynamic cone and fitted to a propulsion unit at its base. Once at the prescribed destination, the cone and propulsion units are removed. The compression bands are separated from the cylinder and the individual flanged beams are removed from the cylinder for various space structures that will be a part of space development, research and future enterprise. The instrument cones and propulsion units will be returned to earth in groups for reuse.

The materials used to fabricate the flanged beams are numerous, depending on the intended function in space. This design suggests structural grade aluminum for its weight to strength advantages and ease of extrusion. The flanged beam could be castellated to further reduce the weight of each section or beam without impairing its strength. Other composite materials utilizing a fabric matrix have similar benefits. In time, the development of lighter and stronger microfiber and single layer carbon atom elements will become available.

While there are significant stresses introduced to these structural elements during the escape of gravity, there is an exponential benefit of the flanged beams capabilities in zero gravity. Large scale structures with long spans can be fabricated in this condition. Couplers can join multiple flanged beams together to build frames for various undertakings. Articulated couplers would allow for virtually unlimited geometric configurations.

The enlarged detail illustrates the inclusion of rolled reflective film nested within the web area of each flanged beam. As a matter of hypothetical projection, this feature would be utilized to develop a structural system of either flat reflective surfaces or a matrix of angled reflective surfaces to utilize solar energy for any number of objectives. This includes the collection of energy for large scale in-space power needs or for transmission to a receiving station on earth.

Since space exploration and utilization really is boundless, it may come to a point in time when mega-structures beyond the grasp of gravity are simply required to maintain stability of the living environment.

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  • ABOUT THE ENTRANT

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    Kenneth Ballew
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