Opterus proposes a trade study between two Solar Array Pedestal Tripod (Pedestal) designs, which are base architectures for the Opterus R-ROMA array for a lunar surface mission. The trade study will further develop the designs to determine which has the best performance, manufacturability, and operations.
The first design utilizes Opterus’ high strain composite Trussed Collapsible Tubular Mast (T-CTM) booms and Recirculating Deployer system. The T-CTM boom is a High Strain Composite structure with a large diameter lenticular cross section and co-cured truss features. Testing has been done to ensure the boom meets load requirements and matches finite element model predictions. The T-CTM is designed to withstand high compression and bending loads while maintaining the ability to flatten and stow compactly by spooling tightly inside the Deployer. The Deployer is a compact mechanical system that contains the motor that actuates extension and retraction. It is currently being developed to withstand lunar dust build up for multiple operational cycles. Both the T-CTM and its deployer are easily scalable for larger systems. This Pedestal design utilizes three T-CTM legs terminating to a foot.
The second proposed Pedestal design uses a simple 4 bar linkage. Each leg will be individually motorized for deploy and stow operations, with each leg fully extending to hard stops. Pinned joints will be tolerant to dust. The legs will stow by folding up and around the array while the feet package tightly under the system.
Both systems have similar CONOPs in that an autonomous rover transports the system to the site of operation, the rover arm or crane holds the stowed system in place and level above the surface, the legs deploy into position, and the rover arm or crane transfers the load to the Pedestal and releases the system. The systems are designed to operate autonomously on uneven terrain up to 15 degrees
NASA’s Artemis I-III missions will require several high-power solar arrays for sustainable surface power on the Moon. Sustainable power is critical for powering landers, ISRU equipment, Lunar bases and rovers. All technology required for the Artemis missions will also be needed for further Mars expeditions. Additionally, SEP is critical for the Moon-Mars campaign for orbiters, tugs and deep space propulsion. These mission needs also align well with NASA’s need for solar power technologies for the next decadal planetary science missions.
Following NASA’s advancements for creating a sustainable lunar environment it is anticipated that the newly created Space Force will expand the DoD’s presence on the Lunar Surface. Although, the Space Force presence is anticipated to be solely autonomous robotic systems and will not sustain huma presence, a sustainable and scalable source for solar power will still be necessary.