The Sunflower Array is a vertically deployable and retractable solar array for lunar surface missions. It utilizes a single rollable boom to extend the solar array. Rollable booms offer low stowed volume, and a single central boom is the most mass efficient way to vertically raise a structure. AMA’s design focuses on simple, reversible, and repeatable actuations for deployment and retraction of the array. The Sunflower Array is compatible with rollable or foldable blanket arrays or structures. Single degree of freedom launch restraints enable simple deployment. Sun tracking is achieved through rotation at the base of the system. The Sunflower Array is dust resistant, as no mechanisms are exposed. All technologies proposed for this system are inherently scalable for future missions. AMA intends to provide a matured and optimized design for the Sunflower Array and will substantiate performance estimates, boom design feasibility and manufacturing methods, and develop locking designs and deployment mechanisms to substantiate simplicity. Phase I work will include systems level conceptual design trades, structural analysis, loads development, detailed boom design, mechanisms design, and system performance analysis. Phase I work will prepare for detailed design and prototyping in Phase II.
The Sunflower Array is applicable to any future NASA lunar surface mission. As NASA pivots to a lunar focus, more of these missions may arise. The system is designed for multiple deployments and retractions enabling reuse through multiple missions. The design is adaptable for a variety of mission architectures and can be scaled up for an eventual permanent lunar base. The simplicity of the system actuations ensures reliability through resistance to lunar dust. This reliability lends itself to long lifetime on the lunar surface.
Potential non-NASA applications mirror NASA applications on the commercial side. Any future commercial landers can benefit from utilizing the Sunflower Array. AMA can potentially seek to license out the technology for production and manufacturing for lunar missions.