Scientists will develop an inflatable brake shell for nanosatellites

(ORDO NEWS) — Questions related to cleaning the Earth‘s orbit from debris are becoming more and more urgent. While some are launching new spacecraft, others are thinking about how to launch them later.

We are talking about an inflatable spherical brake shell made of a thin metallized polymer film. The main purpose is the descent of Cubesat nanosatellites that have served their time into the atmosphere, where they will burn out.

However, the development of scientists is capable of “landing” even larger structures, up to space stations, in which the combustion temperature of some parts is higher than atmospheric. In this regard, the developers faced another question: how to land at the point as close as possible to the specified parameters.

“The lower the orbit, the denser the atmosphere and the more the spacecraft is affected by the law of universal gravitation. This has long been known, even before space flights, a fact. However, if the apparatus falls naturally, then the angle of entry is very small, and it is extremely difficult to determine the range of the fall site.

The combination of inflatable structures made of thin films and navigation makes it possible not only to slow down the device in order to take it out of orbit, but also to choose the area of ​​impact.”

The inflatable brake shell is made by specialists themselves. To do this, use a film 5-12 microns thick, which is glued according to a pre-prepared pattern.

The method of deorbiting a satellite refers to passive methods of combating the formation of space debris: the descent of the apparatus occurs due to the forces of aerodynamic braking. The ball-shaped inflatable module is folded and placed inside the spacecraft.

When folded, it is a small ball with a diameter of no more than 10 cm. When opened, its diameter becomes 2 meters. By repeatedly inflating and deflating the device, the spacecraft decelerates and lowers its altitude. By controlling this process, you can land the device exactly on target.

“Let’s say you decide to launch the ISS, which is located at an altitude of about 420 km from Earth. In free flight, it will gradually subside for 1-1.5 years, and then descend along an unpredictable trajectory.

The presence of such devices as ours would make it possible, using the “cheat-and-drop, blow-and-drop” technology, to greatly narrow the area of ​​an accidental fall. This is achieved due to the fact that the inflatable structure increases the area of ​​the object and, accordingly, the force of its resistance,” the MAI scientist notes .

However, the issue of large-scale commercialization of the project lies in the future. Now many are talking about the need to clean the orbit of space debris, but few do it. According to scientists, the moment will soon come when every spacecraft developer will have to think about how to ensure the “utilization” of their product.

Scientists are sure that their development will be more in demand for removing cubesats from orbit than active methods of combating the formation of space debris, such as an engine, a laser or a plasma beam. Firstly, it is much cheaper and does not require a complex control system.

In this way, it would be possible to de-orbit, without spending fuel, any object. Secondly, the engine impulse at a speed of 150 m/s gives an entry angle of 1.5 degrees, and the accuracy of the area where the device will fall is much wider than when using an inflatable brake shell. Finally, the development of scientists will allow the operation of spacecraft to complete failure.

Ahead of the developers are vacuum tests and a real experiment – the launch of a cubesat with an opening to a height of 400-200 km.


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