The modern-day spacecraft is seen to exist of two fundamental components, the purpose for investigation, or the payload, and the means to which place the payload where it wants to be, or the space platform. Both components require vastly different technical skill, and thus are typically produced by separate design groups. The process of integration between payload and platform is one of the most critical to ensuring the success of the mission.
The research contained within this paper, focuses on identifying and analysing the contents of ‘transfer’ across the interface region. A model, which dictates all transfer phenomena across the interface, will be created and then subsequently applied to form an early configuration spacecraft design tool.
To do so, the interface model categorises transfer into one of mechanical, data, communications, power or thermal sub-systems. It was found that each sub-system was comprised of an array of transfer parameters, which described the response of the payload-platform configuration. Theory was derived from fundamental structural analysis, power transfer theory and computational heat transfer. In addition to this, all static configuration data such as data interface coupling specifications are agreed upon through design negotiations. In completion of the system design, Visual Basic was used to create the software based, spacecraft early design tool ASPECT.
An error analysis based on abnormal results, coupled with a series of ‘test payload’ subjected to the model, proved that the theory invoked provide a useful and accurate solution to calculating the conditions across the interface region.
The expected impact of the interface model on current industry procedures is expected to be greatest to third-party projects such as the ALUMINATE project and ASRI. For these projects, the procedures for payload integration will follow the processes used by NASA and ESA, however the tools and equipment will have to be independently developed. This project attempts to fill that gap.