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Preliminary system design of a Three Arm Capture Mechanism (TACM) flight demonstration articleThe overall objective of the Three Arm Capture Mechanism (TACM) is to serve as a demonstration of capability for capture of objects in space. These objects could be satellites, expended boosters, pieces of debris, etc.; anything of significant size. With this capability we can significantly diminish the danger of major collisions of debris with valuable space assets and with each other, which would otherwise produce many smaller, high velocity pieces of debris which also become concerns. The captured objects would be jettisoned into the atmosphere, relocated in 'parking' orbits, or recovered for disposition or refurbishment. The dollar value of satellites launched into space continues to grow along with the cost of insurance; having a capture capability takes a positive step towards diminishing this added cost. The effort covered is a planning step towards a flight demonstration of the satellite capture capability. Based on the requirement to capture a communication class satellite, its associated booster, or both, a preliminary system definition of a retrieval kit is defined. The objective of the flight demonstration is to demonstrate the techniques proposed to perform the mission and to obtain data on technical issues requiring an in situ space environment. The former especially includes issues such as automated image recognition techniques and control strategies that enable an unmanned vehicle to rendezvous and capture a satellite, contact dynamics between the two bodies, and the flight segment level of automation required to support the mission. A development plan for the operational retrieval capability includes analysis work, computer and ground test simulations, and finally a flight demonstration. A concept to perform a selected mission capturing a precessing communications satellite is described. Further development efforts using analytical tools and laboratory facilities are required prior to reaching the point at which a full commitment to the flight demonstration design can be made.
Document ID
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Schaefer, Otto
(Grumman Aerospace Corp. Bethpage, NY, United States)
Stasi, Bill
(Grumman Aerospace Corp. Bethpage, NY, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1993
Subject Category
Mechanical Engineering
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:192573
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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