Engineers earn tech development award

By Bud Cordova / KFB Nucleus  

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- 

Engineers from the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate Integrated Structural Systems Program are receiving an award for their achievement in notable technology development.

Michael Peterson, top, and Benjamin Urioste test the deployment of a high-strain composite reflector at the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate

Michael Peterson, top, and Benjamin Urioste test the deployment of a high-strain composite reflector at the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate

The Federal Laboratory Consortium bestows the Notable Technology Development award yearly for each of six regions in the U.S. There are 300 laboratories that are part of the consortium. 

AFRL-New Mexico engineers Andrew Williams, Jeremy Banik and Michael Peterson are receiving the honor for their work in high-strain composite deployable space structures. These structures are lighter-weight and can be deployed in space easier than previous designs and structures.

“There hasn’t been much change in six decades of the design of unfurlable satellite structures,” Banik said.

Banik’s responsibilities to the project and team were to look at the big picture and provide guidance for HSC, while Peterson compiled testing and fabrication methodologies so others could build and use the technology developed. 

Williams oversees HSC and several other compatible departments in the Space Vehicles Directorate. He acted as the advocate for funding and helped provide laboratory space for the development of HSC materials.

Together they worked with other laboratories around the country to look at the problem of deploying structures in space. 

Previous satellites were large and heavy, taking up lots of space on rockets for launch. Satellites built using HSC materials are smaller and lighter for the ride to space, but can expand to larger dimensions upon reaching orbit. 

Six patents have come from this research, and Roccor LLC has licensed them in agreements with AFRL.

Already several of the items have flown in space and been proven effective. 

The Notable Technology Development award was presented this week in Pasadena, California. 

Two regions will attend the award ceremony, the Far West and the Mid-Continent regions. 

The Space Vehicles Directorate belongs to the Mid-Continent Region.