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Detumbling Rocket Bodies in Preparation for Active Debris Removal

Mcknight, Darren 1, Di Pentino, Frank 1, Kaczmarek, Adam 1, Knowles, Steve1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2013 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference6th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
L. Ouwehand


The focus of this analysis is on the difficult, yet critical, step of preparing derelicts for removal from orbit by grappling and de-tumbling the object. If the objects are made stable (i.e. not tumbling) and have a common attachment point, then the active debris removal process by another system can be enabled. The approach of this study is to identify possible applications for a microsatellite (less than 100 kg) to detumble large derelict objects as a precursor to active debris removal. This satellite size is small enough to deploy many of them into an orbital regime from a single launch, but large enough to create a reasonable physical effect on a derelict. Two mechanisms investigated to reduce the tumble rate are applying a retarding torque and/or increasing the moment of inertia. Three potential solutions in each of these two general categories are investigated in detail.