Airbus tests sat-stabilizing 'detumblr’ to ease astro-debris • Log

Airbus has developed a complete mechanical solution that uses magnets, the Earth’s magnetic field and a bit of friction to help capture space debris more easily.

Dubbed Tumbler, the device was developed by Airbus in 2021 with the French Space Agency (CNES). One of the 100-gram devices was launched into orbit last weekend on SpaceX’s Transporter-9 „rideshare” mission for small payloads. Airbus Advised The Detumbler will be tested on a nanosatellite from Exotrail in early 2024.

Decommissioned satellites often begin to spin or spin, making it difficult to capture them and move them out of harm’s way.

Hence the need for Detumbler, which is Airbus and CNES to describe [PDF] As a passive magnetic damping device [that can be] Attached to the structure of a satellite.” Once installed, the device „dissipates artificial energy and angular momentum, resulting in eddy currents resulting from differential angular ratios between the satellite and the Earth’s magnetic field, eventually stopping the rolling motion.”

The devices are purely mechanical and do not require power, an Airbus spokesperson said Register.

Airbus Tumbler – Click to enlarge

In their paper, the Airbus and CNES researchers note that a tumbler with a rotor diameter of just five centimeters (1.9 inches) on medium-to-large satellites „should be capable of eliminating tumbling motion within weeks, while preventing self-tumbling.” The team calls it a „game-changer for active waste disposal.”

The device is designed to handle satellites weighing up to 1.5 tons, „more than 95 percent of the current supply of satellites in flight.”

„The demonstration satellite is an 8U CubeSat. However, we have the ability to adjust the size of the tumbler according to inertia and the satellite’s orbit. The size of the rotor’s magnets means that the weight of the rotor and stator remains the same regardless of the size/satellite,” an Airbus spokesperson said. Register.

It’s unclear whether a detumbler can be slapped onto an existing satellite, or whether it will have to be part of it at launch — Airbus didn’t respond to all of our questions before publication. The device is said to have a utility during normal satellite operation, which „acts like a compass following the magnetic field” to keep the satellites on target.

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Of course, the Detumbler’s performance has yet to be proven, which is why Airbus is teaming up with EnduroSat and Exotrail to test one in orbit early next year. Enterosat revealed It received signals from all five satellites transmitted by Transporter-9.

„There are more than 100 million pieces of man-made space debris orbiting our planet … solving this problem is critical,” an Airbus representative explained. Video Posted on Instagram discussing Detumbler.

Example: A 112kg rocket part that has been orbiting Earth for a decade, targeting a future cleanup mission, is struck by another object in August 2023, luckily with minimal damage.

Swarms of satellites have been launched in recent years, forcing manufacturers like Amazon to add countermeasures to help keep debris out of orbit — a fraction of which can still do so. Severe damage. ®

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