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Orbital Propagation of Momentum Exchange Tether SystemsAn advanced concept in in-space transportation currently being studied is the Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic Reboost Tether System (MXER). The system acts as a large momentum wheel, imparting a Av to a payload in low earth orbit (LEO) at the expense of its own orbital energy. After throwing a payload, the system reboosts itself using an electrodynamic tether to push against Earth's magnetic field and brings itself back up to an operational orbit to prepare for the next payload. The ability to reboost itself allows for continued reuse of the system without the expenditure of propellants. Considering the cost of lifting propellant from the ,ground to LEO to do the same Av boost at $10000 per pound, the system cuts the launch cost of the payload dramatically, and subsequently, the MXER system pays for itself after a small number of missions.1 One of the technical hurdles to be overcome with the MXER concept is the rendezvous maneuver. The rendezvous window for the capture of the payload is on the order of a few seconds, as opposed to traditional docking maneuvers, which can take as long ets necessary to complete a precise docking. The payload, therefore, must be able to match its orbit to meet up with the capture device on the end of the tether at a specific time and location in the future. In order to be able to determine that location, the MXER system must be numerically propagated forward in time to predict where the capture device will be at that instant. It should be kept in mind that the propagation computation must be done faster than real-time. This study focuses on the efforts to find and/or build the tools necessary to numerically propagate the motion of the MXER system as accurately as possible.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Westerhoff, John
(Illinois Univ. Urbana-Champaign, IL United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 2002
Publication Information
Publication: Research Reports: 2001 NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship Program
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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