Product/Service - Novel Orbital Moon Manufacturing, Materials, and Mass Efficient Design (NOM4D)
- In-Space Manufacturing
- In-Space Manufacturing
- Large Space Structures
- First launch
- Not announced
HRL Laboratories, LLC, has been selected as one of eight industry and university research teams for the Novel Orbital Moon Manufacturing, Materials, and Mass Efficient Design (NOM4D) program from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
- The NOM4D program seeks to create a disruptive change in the way future space structures, such as orbital power stations or large radio frequency (RF) apertures with 100 meter diameter, are made. If successful, the extremely low energy structural forming and joining techniques developed under this program will enable much larger, more efficient structures than are possible today.
- To do this, NOM4D teams are tasked with foundational proofs of concept in materials science, manufacturing, and design technologies. These prototype structures will show a path to overcome the size constraint of launch vehicle fairings and limited in-orbit power for forming and joining of large space structures.
- Current large space structures, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, rely on deployable technology – mechanized structures that can fold, roll, or inflate – that are stowed prior to launch in a compact package and then deployed after launch to full size. “By forming materials to their final shape in space, we dispense with added structural mass needed to meet launch requirements,” said Dr. Christopher Henry, HRL’s Principal Investigator on NOM4D.
- “HRL’s HYDRIde Forming for ORbital Manufacturing (HYDRIFORM) approach leverages HRL’s multi-disciplinary capabilities, together with our team L’Garde Inc. and ALLVAR, to develop a novel in space manufacturing concept that is both size and power efficient for fabrication yet pushes the bounds of efficient space structures,” said Dr. Henry.
- HRL will demonstrate the key elements to achieve structures that can be built up from energy efficient structural members that are both formed and joined in space. These elements are: mass and power efficient forming of metallic members; and joining of metallic members in a lightweight, yet durable manner. “Both of these assembly operations have not really been explored previously and would form the basis for the ability to manufacture an arbitrarily large spacecraft structure,” adds Brian Hempe, HRL’s Lead Development Engineer.
Made In Space, a Redwire subsidiary, developed the Ceramic Manufacturing Machine (CMM) that launched to the International Space Station in October 2020. In December 2020 CMM successfully UV cured polymer resin layer-by-layer in microgravity for the first time. This material enables additive manufacturing of different polymers and ceramics at high resolution in space. This new capability would allow astronauts to rapidly print replacement parts, tools and other items, eliminating the need to bring and store spare parts and tools that might never be used. This flexibility will be critical for future missions such as a crewed mission to Mars.
- Ceramic Additive Manufacturing has been demonstrated for the first time on the International Space Station using HRL’s Pre-ceramic Resin.
- The structural parts of space infrastructure, such as solar arrays, telescopes and satellites, are currently designed to withstand the high loads at launch and end up with significant parasitic mass once deployed in space. Additive manufacturing in space could reduce by a large factor the amount of material launched to build space infrastructure. 3D printing ceramic materials is especially interesting for these applications, since ceramics are much more resistant to radiation exposure and extreme temperatures than polymers, and easier to print than lightweight metals.