Low Cost Orbital Debris Capture Net and Solar Sail
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
Operational satellites are at risk from a growing threat of orbital debris generated by satellite explosions and collisions. There are currently 19,000 objects larger than 10 cm being currently tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network and an estimated 500,000 particles between 1 and 10 cm in diameter. The risk of orbital debris is also self-propagating, as the recent collision of the Iridium 33 communications satellite and the derelict Russian Cosmos 2251 satellite demonstrated by generating more than 500 pieces of debris large enough to be tracked. A capture satellite, designed to successfully de-orbit debris would require three capabilities. First, the satellite would need to rendezvous and approach a randomly shaped and tumbling debris target with enough accuracy for capture. Second, the satellite would need a means to capture and hold an arbitrary shape. Finally, the satellite would need a means of changing orbits while holding the debris, until the orbit became terminal. The proposed program will consider all three capabilities but will focus on the development of a deployable capture net for capturing and holding an arbitrary shape and the design of a solar sail based system to de-orbit the capture satellite along with the captured debris. BENEFIT: Development and Testing of an orbital debris capture and hold system that can be demonstrated on a 3u cubesat class micro-satellite. Evaluation of a solarsail design for micro-satellite orbit maneuvers and de-orbit of large debris objects. Protection of high-value assets from co-orbital debris. Re-supply/ repair of commercial spacecraft.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Composite Technology Development, Inc.
2600 Campus Drive, Suite D Lafayette, CO 80026
Number of Employees: