De-orbiting Small Satellites Using Inflatables

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Aman Chandra, Jekan Thangavelautham

(Submitted on 11 Sep 2018)

Small-satellites and CubeSats offer a low-cost pathway to access Low Earth Orbit at altitudes of 450 km and lower thanks to miniaturization and advancement in reliability of commercial electronics. However, at these low altitudes, atmospheric drag has a critical effect on the satellite resulting in natural deorbits within months. As these small systems further increase in reliability and radiation tolerance they will be able readily access higher orbits at altitudes of 700 km and higher, where atmospheric drag has little to no effect. This requires alternative technologies to either de-orbit these small spacecrafts at the end of life or move them to a safe parking orbit. Use of propulsion and de-orbit mechanisms have been proposed, however they require active control systems to be trigged. Other typical de-orbit mechanism relies on complex mechanisms with many moving parts. In this work, we analyze the feasibility of using inflatable de-orbit devices that are triggered passively when a spacecraft is tumbling. Inflatables have already been proposed as hypersonic deccelerators that would carry large payload to the Martian surface. However, these systems are quite complex and need to withstand high-forces, temperature and enable survival of a critical payload. Furthermore, inflatables have been proposed as communication antennas and as structures using a class of sublimates that turn into gas under the vacuum of space. These inflatables system are relatively simple and does not require a specialized inflation system.

Comments: 10 pages, 12 figures, appears at Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, 2018

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)

Cite as: arXiv:1809.04459 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1809.04459v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jekan Thangavelautham 

[v1] Tue, 11 Sep 2018 13:49:16 GMT (537kb)

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