Flight mechanics applications for tethers in space: Cooperative Italian-US programsSince the 1974 proposal by Giuseppe Colombo to fly a tethered subsatellite from the Shuttle Orbiter, the creative thinking of many scientists and engineers from Italy and U.S. has generated a broad range of potential tether applications in space. Many of these applications have promise for enabling innovative research and operational activities relating to flight mechanics in earth orbit and at suborbital altitudes. From a flight mechanics standpoint the most interesting of the currently proposed flight demonstrations are: the second Tethered Satellite System experiment which offers both the potential for aerothermodynamics and hypersonics research and for atmospheric science research; the Tethered Initiated Space Recovery System which would enable orbital deboost and recovery of a re-entry vehicle and waste removal from a space station; and the Tether Elevator/Crawler System which would provide a variable microgravity environment and space station center of mass management. The outer atmospheric and orbital flight mechanics characteristics of these proposed tether flight demonstrations are described. The second Tethered Satellite System mission will deploy the tethered satellite earthward and will bring it as low as 130 km from ground and thus into the transition region between the atmosphere (non-ionized) and the partially ionized ionosphere. The atmospheric flight mechanics of the tethered satellite is discussed and simulation results are presented. The Tether Initiated Space Recovery System experiment will demonstrate the ability of a simple tether system to deboost and recover a reentry vehicle. The main feature of this demonstration is the utilization of a Small Expendable Deployment System (SEDS) and the low-tension deployment assumed to separate the reentry vehicle from the Shuttle. This low-tension deployment maneuver is discussed and its criticalities are outlined. The Tether Elevator/Crawler System is a new space element able to move in a controlled way between the ends of a deployed tethered system. A Shuttle test of an Elevator model is planned to demonstrate the unique capability of this element as a microgravity facility and to test the transfer motion control. The basic dynamical features of the Elevator system are presented and a preliminary assessment of the Elevator-induced tether vibrations is discussed.
Bevilacqua, Franco (Aeritalia S.p.A. Turin (Italy)., United States)
Merlina, Pietro (Aeritalia S.p.A. Turin, Italy)
Anderson, John L. (NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
September 6, 2013
June 1, 1990
Publication: AGARD, Space Vehicle Flight Mechanics