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SPACE TETHER

On-Orbit ServicingRetrievable Multi-shotSoft-dockingSpace debrisSTS space tethered systems

Introduction

This patented space tether consists of a system that includes the controlled deployment and the retrieval of the cable. It can launch tethered probes, stop them in the proper position and recover them, over and over. The tether is small, light and reliable.

Technical features

Tether deployment in orbit has always been a challenge: missions that have tried to use them have more than often failed. Moreover, the retrieval of the cable after the launch of small satellites has never been accomplished. This patented system is a simple, light and compact solution that can be applied to Cubesats. The tether includes all components necessary for a complete launch system, capable of successfully carrying out the three main tasks required from tethers: probe deployment, controlled positioning and retrieval. Other than probe and satellite deployment, it will find use in many space applications such as active space debris removal, on-orbit servicing, and tethered formation flying. The system has been tested successfully in microgravity at the Bremen Drop Tower.

Possible Applications

  • Launch and retrieval of space probes and satellites;
  • Space debris capture;
  • Space tug;
  • Soft docking;
  • On-Orbit Servicing;
  • Tethered formation flying.

Advantages

  • Multi-shot retrievable system;
  • Feedback controlled deployment trajectories;
  • Based on consolidated technology (fishing reel);
  • Miniaturizable;
  • Limited mass and size.