Image: Tethered satellites for propulsion without fuel

Tethered satellites for propulsion without fuel
Credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

How to propel a spacecraft without propellant? Use electrodynamic tethers. These are long, strong conductors connecting two spacecraft. When direct current is applied to the tether, the tether exerts a force on the spacecraft, causing it to either accelerate or brake.

Such tethers might be used to perform fuel-free orbital maneuvers, or deorbit satellites at the end of their working lifetime to prevent buildup of orbital debris.

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain has proposed an improved tether design incorporating thin film to harvest added power for the plasma circuit, intended for end-of-life deorbiting.

The idea was proposed through ESA's Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) Open Discovery ideas Channel, seeking novel ideas for new space research activities. This innovative concept has been accepted by ESA for implementation, along with numerous others.


Explore further

Scientists develop inexpensive method to produce E-sail tethers

Citation: Image: Tethered satellites for propulsion without fuel (2021, October 13) retrieved 16 October 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-image-tethered-satellites-propulsion-fuel.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
4 shares

Feedback to editors