Evaluation of the Impact of an Additive Manufacturing Enhanced CubeSat Architecture on the CubeSat Development Process
Air Force Institute of Technology WPAFB United States
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Additive manufacturing AM is a fabrication method ideally suited to low-quantity, highly customized builds, leading to interest in its application to satellite development and manufacturing, where each build is unique. Due to the issues of long development schedules and high development and manufacturing costs, methods are needed in the CubeSat development process to reduce the weight and volume of subsystems and decrease integration time. The work develops an architecture for an AM-augmented CubeSat and examines the AM techniques of embedded electronics, embedded thrusters, and custom radiation-hardened materials can impact the subsystems of a CubeSat. The AM-augmented architecture shows a shift in CubeSat development and manufacturing from a modular approach to an integrated approach where most of the CubeSats internal bus components, such as electronics, thrusters, and propulsion, are integrated directly into the structure. This integrated approach results in decreased time spent in assembly and integration, decreased mass and volume, and also allows for key components to be embedded in materials with improved radiation attenuation characteristics.