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Title Active Space Debris Removal using Capture and Ejection
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department Aerospace Engineering
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher Texas A&M University
Abstract Low Earth Orbit is over-cluttered with rogue objects that threaten existing technological assets and interfere with allocating new ones. Traditional satellite missions are not efficient enough to collect an appreciable amount of debris due to the high cost of orbit transfers. Many alternate proposals are politically controversial, costly, or dependent on undeveloped technology. This dissertation attempts to solve the problem by introducing a new mission architecture, Space Sweeper, and bespoke hardware, Sling-Sat, that sequentially captures and ejects debris plastically. Resulting momentum exchanges are exploited to aid in subsequent orbit transfers, thus saving fuel. Sling-Sat is a spinning satellite that captures debris at the ends of adjustable-length arms. Arm length controls the angular rate to achieve a desired tangential ejection speed. Timing the release exacts the ejection angle. This process redirects debris to burn up in the atmosphere, or reduce its lifetime, by lowering its perigee. This dissertation establishes feasibility of principles fundamental to the proposed concept. Hardware is conceptualized to accommodate Space Sweeper ’s specialized needs. Mathematical models are built for the purpose of analysis and simulation. A kinematic analysis investigates system demands and long-term behavior resulting from repeated debris interaction. A successful approach to enforce debris capture is established through optimal control techniques. A study of orbital parameters and their response to debris interactions builds an intuition for missions of this nature. Finally, a J2-compliant technique for path optimization is demonstrated. The results strongly support feasibility of the proposed mission.
Subjects/Keywords Active; space; debris; removal; Sling-sat; sweeper
Contributors Mortari, Daniele (advisor); Junkins, John (committee member); Valasek, John (committee member); Rojas, J. Maurice (committee member)
Language en
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:1969.1/149391
Repository tamu
Date Indexed 2020-08-12
Grantor Texas A&M University
Issued Date 2013-04-25 00:00:00

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…result of the estimated 500,000 pieces of man-made clutter larger than 0.04 inches in LEO [17]. To avoid future uncontrolled conjunction cascading (the “Kessler Syndrome” [15]), active debris removal is necessary…

removal [8]. The reasons for these conclusions vary, but often include high cost, political sensitivity (from weaponizing aggressive plans), potential to create more debris, and accidental interception of active spacecraft (passive…

…and debris–all are at risk for removal [19]. 11 2.3.5 Active Removal Active debris removal methods involve some form of controlled interaction with a targeted object; therefore, they are limited to objects that are large enough to track…

active debris removal, but it does not establish how a removal mission might work. Several laser impingement methods have been proposed to actively remove debris. Ground or space-based lasers are focused on the leading edge of the debris, and the pressure…

…compounding the problem [17]. In addition, modeling often assumes perfect surface interactions, but some of the effectiveness will be lost in favor of attitude dynamics. Navigating the political grounds of active debris removal will likely require…

…fuel capacity. Some involve a refueling station. In terms of active debris removal, this means a team of debris-capturing satellites that periodically return to a central docking station to unload debris and refuel [6]. The ElectroDynamic…

…81 8.9 Active debris catalog after filtering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 8.10 Three-interaction example solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 8.11 Angular rate before each capture…

…x5B;4], remote vehicles that capture debris and return to a central station [6], passively intercepting debris with a foamy ball of ∗ Portions reprinted with permission from “Sling Satellite for Debris Removal with Aggie Sweeper” by…