Self-deployable drag sail folded nine times

Jan Nikolajsen, Anders S. Kristensen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

1 Citationer (Scopus)


Increased focus on space debris push regulations by the UN and thereby the demand for debris removal systems to be implemented in future spacecraft. This research focuses on debris removal of post-mission satellites in LEO using drag augmented deorbit into the earth's atmosphere. By using gossamer sails (drag sails), aerodynamic breaking can effectively be achieved in LEO up to 700 km. The presented work supplements the research performed in the H2020 project Technologies for Self-Removal of Spacecraft (TeSeR), in which the Self-Deployable Deorbiting Space Structure (SDSS) has been further developed. It is devised how to obtain a self-deployable drag sail folded nine times for use in debris removal for a 6U CubeSat, i.e. an SDSS/9. Achieving nine folds of Highly Flexible Frame (HFF) is essential to maximize the drag sail area when it is unfolded and hereby increasing drag force. The nine times folded HFF has been modeled in computer simulations and demonstrated in a lab. From lab-based research, several issues have been identified when folding the HFF nine times. Of these, two main issues are addressed in this paper, i.e. relaxation and uncoiling. When folded nine times, the von Mises stresses computed by FEM reach 1857 MPa. Combined with residual stresses, this is causing yield and relaxation in the HFF and reducing the deployability. A minimum drag sail diameter is identified for this setup, and the high-strength stainless steel should be heat treated to relieve residual stresses before folding. A side-mounted design is chosen for the configuration of the SDSS. This reduces friction during the release and deployment of the drag sail. From thorough testing, it is observed that the uncoiling of the HFF during storage in the pocket significantly reduces the deployability of the SDSS. To mitigate both radial and axial uncoiling of the HFF in the pocket, the pocket diameter and height should be designed with an exact fit to the folded diameter and height of the ideally folded HFF with the drag sail included. Based on this research, a new design of the SDSS/9 for CubeSats is devised, and preliminary testing indicates good consistencies more test is necessary to determine the reliability of the side mounted SDSS. Hence, from the research, it is concluded that SDSS/9 is a feasible solution for a low-cost add-on debris removal system. Furthermore, the side-mounted design allows integration with additional collision protection of the spacecraft.

TidsskriftAdvances in Space Research
Udgave nummer10
Sider (fra-til)4242-4251
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 15 nov. 2021

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