Pocket Satellites are small inexpensive satellites that, when launched, form a 3U cube satellite. Currently, the engineers working on this satellite are in Phase 3 of four phases. The purpose of Phase 3 is to finalize design for fabrication, define launching specification, and requirements for Pocket Satellites.
There are three different designs for the Pocket Satellites. The first is the Envelope design, and it consists of 5 structural components made from aluminum: a base plate and 4 large flaps. Each flap will attach to the base plate by a stainless steel pin, and the pins will be pressed into the base plate so that it will form hinges with each flap. Since the rod will be pressed into the base plate only the flap will be free to move and the rod can constrain the other side of the torsion spring. Each flap will be sprung with a torsion spring on each side of each rod. The flaps will each have a triangular surface on the opposing side from the base plate in order to fully encapsulate the pocket satellites. The flaps will be attached to each other using permanent magnets, and one design will have 15 permanent magnets pressed directly into the aluminum. The other design will have 15 magnets on a track so that when it’s time to deploy the magnets can be moved so that there is no more attractive force between flaps. Then the torsion springs will pull the flaps open and the pocket satellites will be released into space.
The second design is Screw-Driven, and it is constructed inside a full aluminum chassis and detachable back plate that fits the 3U form factor. The deploying mechanism inside revolves around four independent multi-turn servos that mount on the back plate oriented in the Y direction. The treaded rods run the full length of the chassis in the Z direction, and the rods are centered inside a square channel and mounted at the end with a bearing. The rods will interface with the threaded rod and guide rail through a high precision base plate. The guide rail runs down the center of the chassis and provides a second mounting point for the pocket satellites. The threaded rod interfaces with the pocket satellite base plate like a screw and nut. As the rod turns the pocket satellite travels in the Z direction using the square aluminum channels and guide rails for stabilization.
The third design is a Clock Spring Design, and it has a large push plate in the back of the launcher will be tensioned by clock-springs on the top and bottom cavities. Each pocket satellite will have a precision base plate that will interface with a latching rail system and provide the only point of contact to the push plate and other satellites. The pocket Satellites’ back plates will be latched through compression by a lever system actuated by the door. The lever system will imitate a vice grips. This “vice grips” will hold the satellites so that they don’t rattle when the door is closed. When the door is opened the satellites will be released and the back plate will launch all satellites at once.