2012 Volume 26 Issue 1 Pages 1_21-1_32
A 3-year Project financed by the European Commission is aimed at developing a universal system to de-orbit satellites at their end of life, as a fundamental contribution to limit the increase of debris in the Space environment. The operational system involves a conductive tapetether left bare to establish anodic contact with the ambient plasma as a giant Langmuir probe. The Project will size the three disparate dimensions of a tape for a selected de-orbit mission and determine scaling laws to allow system design for a general mission. Starting at the second year, mission selection is carried out while developing numerical codes to implement control laws on tether dynamics in/off the orbital plane; performing numerical simulations and plasma chamber measurements on tether-plasma interaction; and completing design of subsystems: electronejecting plasma contactor, power module, interface elements, deployment mechanism, and tether-tape/end-mass. This will be followed by subsystems manufacturing and by currentcollection, free-fall, and hypervelocity impact tests.