Shape Change Analysis of Modular Tensegrity Structures for Parabolic Reflectors

Kaila M. Roffman, George A. Lesieutre

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


For large-scale space structure applications, lightweight, deployable structures are designed and developed to address the mass and volume constraints of launch vehicles. For extremely large-scale structures, deployable modules will be individually stowed and launched in multiple vehicles, followed by in-space assembly. Taking an extremely large-scale parabolic reflector as a representative application, a triplex-based deployable tensegrity module is developed. The geometry of the module is described in a way that incorporates length constraints directly. Geometric design variables are defined and used with an optimization strategy to seek the best fit of the surface of the tensegrity module to a paraboloid surface. Best fits are successfully found for modules both centered and offset with respect to the paraboloid center. The resulting shapes are then used as target end shapes for a deployment path-planning procedure. The path-planning approach starts with a parameterized line in the design variables from the specified start (stowed) shape to the specified end (deployed) shape. Configurations along this line are incrementally checked for satisfaction of equilibrium and length constraints. Any configurations which do not satisfy these constraints are adjusted using a local optimization strategy to seek the nearest set of design variables that do satisfy these requirements. This approach successfully found a deployment path for the proposed triplex module that takes it from a stowed shape where the top and bottom faces are parallel, to a best-fit shape to a paraboloid surface, while maintaining structural equilibrium and satisfying length constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
StatePublished - 2022
Event73rd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2022 - Paris, France
Duration: Sep 18 2022Sep 22 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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