Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has been awarded a program from the U.S. Air Force to develop a launch hardened docking mechanism that can provide on-orbit servicing and refueling while dually operating as a restraint interface that can survive launch loads.
With the development of spacecraft capable of performing on-orbit servicing and refueling, a dual use docking mechanism and launch restraint mechanism offers significant weight, volume, and cost savings. PSI is developing the Toothed Cup-cone Launch-hardened Androgynous Docking (T-CLAD) mechanism, an androgynous and launch-hardened docking mechanism capable of providing self-alignment docking capabilities to provide fuel, data, and power transfer. The androgynous design allows one interface design to be used on both docking structures. Additional to fuel and electrical ports, the system allows for docking in four rotational positions, enabling servicing capabilities between the satellites or structures.
The implementation of PSI’s T-CLAD mechanism as a dual-use launch restrain system and docking mechanism would expand the U.S. Space Force’s capabilities in on-orbit servicing. Designed primarily for ESPA class small satellites, The T-CLAD mechanism offers benefits to apply these class satellites as refueling tanks or as other on-orbit logistical service platforms. A docking mechanism that can additionally survive the extreme launch environment is beneficial saving weight and volume. This launch-hardened docking mechanism could be sized accordingly to various satellites, expanding on-orbit servicing applications to a wide variety of satellites. Smaller interfaces can be developed for CubeSat class satellites and multiple interfaces can be used for medium to large class satellites.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Sean Torrez
Area Manager, Deployable Technologies
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003