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Development of a Mechanical De-orbiting System for a 3-Unit CubeSat Ceyhun Tola1 *, Alim Rustem Aslan1 1 Faculty of Aeronautics and

Astronautics, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey Keyword: De-Orbiting, Cubesat, Low earth orbit Small satellite population in low Earth orbit is expected to increase rapidly due to their low cost and accessibility of space researches from a large number of nations. Therefore, the amount of space debris will also probably increase, in due time. Since it has been threatening the active satellites in orbit, United Nations offered a regulation that satellites performing at low Earth orbit have to de-orbit within 25 years after end of their life to lessen the amount of space debris. Taking this suggestion into consideration, CubeSat Design Specifications are renewed by California Polytechnic State University [1]. In this study, to comply with the new standard, a cost effective, low energy consuming mechanical deorbiting system is developed for a 3Unit CubeSat which will perform at low Earth orbit. Neither cold gas thrust systems used by telecommunication satellites nor are thrusters requiring high energy reasonable to de-orbit the small satellites.

Figure-1 The Overview of De-Orbiting System

The full paper will describe the development of the mechanical de-orbiting device for a 3Unit Communication CubeSat weighing 4 kg, and placed at 650 - 700 km distance from the earth surface. The system is to de-orbit the satellite within 25 years by increasing the drag force exerted on the 3U CubeSat by

means of enlarging the frontal surface area. De-orbiting system consists of a lightweight thin membrane supported by band beams having a curvature which increase the drag force, 2 storage rollers storing the membrane and the band beams, 2 spiral spring systems to deploy the membrane-beam couple and a timer to set the deployment time. All system materials are selected considering the extreme orbital conditions. The overview of the system is described in Figure 1. This system has an advantage that it deploys the membranes at the same plane so the center of gravity of the system almost does not change when the membranes are deployed. Membranes and flexible beams will be stored on the cylindrical storage units when the system is operating at passive mode. After completion of the satellites mission locks of the flexible beams will be released by a signal and membranes will be deployed via energy of the spiral springs. Then, deployed membranes will de-orbit the satellite within 25 years step by step. Orbital lifetime calculations are conducted via STK (Satellite Tool Kit) Program and membranes are sized accordingly. Membrane-beam couple, storage rollers, spiral spring systems are designed based on the analysis results considering the volume limit. They will be produced and a scaled model of systems tests will be conducted at Space Systems Design and Testing Laboratory of the faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics together with graduate and undergraduate students. The de-orbiting system in deployed form is sketched in Figure 2. Various views and parts of the de-orbiting system are shown in Figures 3 and 4.

Figure-2 Whole System

Figure-3 Near Isometric View From Upside

Figure-4 Near Isometric View From Downside

References [1] CubeSat Design Specification, Revision 12, The CubeSat Program, CalPoly, SLO, (2009).