ILC Dover has received notice of award from NASA on a program that will directly address many of the NASA exploration objectives and technical challenges noted in NASA’s Human & Robotic Technology (H&RT) Project Formulation Plan.
The goal of ILC’s program is to improve system reliability and increase infrastructure flexibility by incorporating intelligence and material improvements in inflatable materials that can be used in a variety of system architectures.
Inflatable structures will play a major role in future exploration missions since they offer high packing efficiency for reduced mass and launch costs.
The benefits of using structures with readily collapsible walls are the following:
-Reduced stowage volume (or increased packing efficiency), which can have a profound effect on launch vehicle size and thus mission cost.
-Reduced mass, which is realized when comparing all features equally with mechanical systems.
-Reduced complexity, which results in higher reliability than mechanically deployable systems.
-Increased design flexibility, which enables inflatable structures to be made into a multitude of shapes that can extend in various directions.
Recent advancements in materials science and electrical engineering have created several technologies that can be applied to the walls of these inflatable structures to provide intelligence for improved performance and sustainability in mission applications. ILC currently is employing printed or etched conductive traces in products for medical, architectural, and space use.