Dust-Tolerant Joint

 

Photo of dust-tolerant joint
Dust-tolerant joint

Enabling Technologies –> Dust-Tolerant Joint
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CRG has developed a multi-functional, thermally-activated shape memory polymer (SMP) joint that is suitable for various extraterrestrial construction activities. Its low insertion force, high ultimate load capacity, and dust-tolerant features allow for ease of autonomous assembly by robotic end effectors, or it cam be a low-dexterity option for astronauts as well. It enables assembly in pervasive dust environments. Click to view full tech sheet.

The SMP joint’s features outlined below make it suitable for various in-space construction activities on lunar, Martian, and asteroid surfaces.

  • Dust-Tolerant – Joint attachment/detachment capabilities in the presence of dust/regolith
  • In-Space Applications – Truss, payloads, pallets, rovers, landers, deployment/release mechanisms, in-space construction
  • Self-Aligning – Unique SMP material properties and geometries accommodate misalignment for easier assembly
  • Scalable – Engineering parameters of the joint can be tailored for desired applications
  • Reusable – Joint function is reversible, allowing for cyclic operations
  • Electrically Isolating – To ensure compatibility with autonomous assembly/maneuverability CONOPS
Dust-tolerant joint diagram
Diagram showing the joint is flexible when heated so it can be
inserted or extracted, then becomes rigid again when cooled