Technologies for Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost Tether Facilities
A modular Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost (MXER) tether system can provide a fully-reusable in-space propulsion system that can provide propellantless propulsion for orbital transfer, Earth-to-Orbit launch assist, and reboost of LEO spacecraft such as the ISS. By eliminating the need to launch large quantities of transfer propellant into orbit for each payload, a MXER tether system can greatly reduce the size and cost of the launch vehicle needed for each payload, and thus it can help achieve the several-orders-of-magnitude launch cost decreases needed to enable widespread commercialization of space. MXER tether systems will require several innovations, including survivable tether structures with both high-strength and conducting materials, methods for controlling electrodynamic spin-up and reboost while maintaining dynamic stability, and an architecture that can enable capabilities to be increased and qualified in a modular, incremental manner. In the proposed effort, TUI will develop designs to address all three of these needs, and develop a concept design for a low-cost flight experiment, the ?Microsatellite Tethered Orbit Raising QUalification Experiment? (?TORQUE), which will enable flight validation of these MXER Tether technologies.
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