Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Curtis H. Spenny, PhD


Current plans for constructing large structures in space entail fabricating the primary components, such as truss segments, on the ground and assembling them in space. This process requires an exorbitant number of support missions, and methods to minimize the number must be considered. Whenever the space shuttle is launched, its external tank is jettisoned and destroyed prior to reaching orbit. This aerospace grade aluminum structure can be carried into orbit and utilized extrusively. The Prototype Space Fabrication Platform SFP fabricates aluminum materials, reduced from external tanks, into functional trusses. The trusses are strong and can be used as the primary components for future structures in space. The fabrication process produces a continuous truss allowing the end user to determine the length. The SFP can fabricate the same amount of truss from one external tank as four dedicated shuttle missions can deliver in the cargo bay. The SFP utilizes electrodynamic propulsion, via shielded coils, for maneuvering. The novel propulsion system facilitates a versatile payload transportation and delivery capability. The SFP can continuously track a target from all directions. The tracking system is ideal for docking since plume impingement is not a concern. With the assistance of remote manipulators, the SFP can deliver a payload in a wide variety of orientations. Under most conditions, the remote manipulator and maneuvering commands originate from ground workstations. Required manned presence is greatly reduced, and the time when the space shuttle is off station is effectively utilized. The logistical complications, currently inhibiting advancement in space, can be eliminated.

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The authors' Vita pages are omitted.