The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced the launch of a program to develop new technologies for the adaptive production of large-scale structures in space.
As part of the NOM4D initiative, the organization will study systems designs that will effectively create high-tech structures in Earth’s orbit and the lunar surface. According to DARPA, the current way of building large dynamic objects is very complex, expensive and has a number of limitations..
For example, the ISS with a mass of 420 tons was assembled from separate modules, each of which was delivered on a separate single-use rocket. In this case, all elements must correspond to the dimensions and weight of the apparatus on which the from the atmosphere, withstand overload and vibration during transport, and be strong enough to function normally, both on the surface of the planet when tested and in open space.
The US Department of Defense believes that the further development of space technology and the growth in the number of missions requires a revision not only of the manufacturing process, but also of the design of the structures themselves. Therefore, by 2030, DARPA plans to develop concepts for new logistics and industrial processes, design the necessary equipment and infrastructure facilities to create complex structures from materials and components outside the Earth, as well as refuel shuttles..
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Since the structures created in this way will be operated in space or on the lunar surface, they may not be as strong, have a lower mass and contain elements that would collapse in terrestrial conditions. Due to this, their mass efficiency should increase..
DARPA will first explore new materials, designs and manufacturing processes. The FDA will then conduct a three-step concept review that will assess the accuracy, compliance of the produced structures with technical requirements and the ability to control operations..
Not only the US, but Europe is also expanding its space ambitions. At the end of last year, ESA reported that in 2023 will launch a robotic orbital laboratory.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: DARPA, wal24