Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Richard A. Raines, PhD


As the demand for space based communications and faster data throughput increase, satellites are becoming larger. Larger satellite antennas help to provide the needed gain to increase communications in space. Compounding the performance and size trade-offs are the payload weight and size limit imposed by the launch vehicles. Inflatable structures offer a cost saving opportunity since the structure is significantly lighter and has a reduced storage volume. This allows for smaller launch vehicles and for increased performance capabilities. Inflatable structures offer possibilities for increased satellite lifetimes, increased communications capacity, and reduce launch costs. This thesis develops and implements the computer control system and power system to support the Rigidized Inflatable Get-Away-Experiment. The autonomous computer system controls the flow of the experiment while at the same time collecting and recording temperature, pressure, vibration, and image data. The computer system consists of two processors, one for experiment control and sensor data collection and the second for image data collection. These two systems can work simultaneously to control the flow of the experiment and meet the experiment objectives. Examples of the data collection include heating curves, pressure, tube transfer function plots and images. This thesis also develops the Matlab® tools required to analyze the data collected by the computers for post-flight data processing. This thesis lays the groundwork for a microprocessor-based architecture for autonomous space experiments. This pioneering effort has been selected for flight testing on-board the U.S. Space Shuttle.

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DTIC Accession Number