Opterus proposes PMACs: Precision Multifunction Autonomous Connections. PMACs are a node-strut connection system designed for hybrid deployable and robotically assembled large precision optical structures. PMACs enable 10 to 30 m diameter primary mirror telescopes to be autonomously assembled on orbit. The system is multifunction and carries data, power, and fluids over the connection and is additionally high stiffness, dimensionally stable and high conductivity. A kinematically functional prototype will be manufactured in the Phase I program. The system features precision crawler assembly robot attachment points for data and power with known locations to simplify assembly positioning and metrology. The connections allow insertion of truss elements with zero axial force or distortion to maintain alignment precision. Using a grid network topology, the struts are smart with multiple sensors and networked analogue to digital converters. Embedded temperature and strain sensors are also planned for strut dimensional and health monitoring. The system is designed to be assembled, calibrated, and characterized on the ground and rapidly assemble on orbit with a minimum of robotic operations.
Missions in astrophysics are the primary NASA commercialization paths for PMACs. These include occulters for Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) and the New Worlds Technology Development Programs. Additional programs include FIR Surveyor, Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor, the X-ray surveyor in the Formative Era, the Cosmic Dawn Mapper and the ExoEarth Mapper in the Visionary Era. Assembled structures are also critical to NASA’s Moon to Mars program.
Non-NASA commercialization paths include commercial and DoD applications. Similar to NASA, DoD has a persistent need for large aperture sensing systems. Needs range from large optical systems to large antennas for GMTI and AMTI as well as signals intelligence and geolocation. Commercial space is also experiencing a rise in in-space assembly needs.