We have developed a newly designed non-explosive release actuator that can replace currently used release devices. The release mechanism is based on a separation mechanism, which relies on segmented nuts and a shape memoryalloy (SMA) wire trigger. A quite fast and simple trigger operation is made possible through the use of SMA wire. This actuator is designed to allow a high preload with low levels of shock for the solar arrays of medium-size satellites. After actuation, the proposed device can be easily and instantly reset. Neither replacement, nor refurbishment of any components is necessary. According to the results of a performance test, the release time, preload capacity, and maximum shock level are 50 ms, 15 kN, and 350 G, respectively. In order to increase the reliability of the actuator, more than ten sets of performance tests are conducted. In addition, the proposed release actuator is tested under thermal vacuum and extreme vibration environments. No degradation or damage was observed during the two environment tests, and the release actuator was able to operate successfully. Considering the test results as a whole, we conclude that the proposed non-explosive release actuator can be applied reliably to intermediate-size satellites to replace existing release systems.
Received 21 August 2012Accepted 31 December 2012Published online 22 January 2013
This work was supported from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). Additional support was obtained from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean Government (MEST) (Grant No. 2012-0000976).
Article outline: I. INTRODUCTION II. FUNCTIONAL PRINCIPLE A. Component B. Release mechanism III. PERFORMANCE TEST A. Static load test B. Separation time test C. Shock level test IV. ENVIRONMENTAL TEST A. Thermal vacuum cycling test B. Random vibration test V. CONCLUSION
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