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The InflateSail CubeSat Mission – The First European Demonstration of Drag-Sail De-Orbiting

Underwood, Craig, Viquerat, A, Taylor, Benjamin, Massimiani, Chiara, Duke, Richard, Fellowes, S, Schenk, M, Stewart, Brian, Bridges, C P, Masutti, D and Denis, A (2018) The InflateSail CubeSat Mission – The First European Demonstration of Drag-Sail De-Orbiting In: 4th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop, 04-07 Dec 2017, Rome (Palazzo Rospigliosi), Italy.

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The InflateSail (QB50-UK06) CubeSat, designed and built at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey, UK, for the Von Karman Institute (VKI), Belgium – was one of the technology demonstrators for the QB50 pro-gramme. The 3.2 kilogram 3U CubeSat was equipped with a 1 metre long inflat-able boom and a 10m2 deployable drag sail. InflateSail's primary mission was to demonstrate the effectiveness of using a drag sail in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to dramatically increase the rate at which satellites lose altitude and re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and it was one of 31 satellites that were launched simultane-ously on the PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle) C-38 from Sriharikota, India on 23rd June 2017 into a 505km, 97.44o Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). Shortly after orbital insertion, InflateSail booted-up, and, once safely clear of the other satellites on the launch, it automatically activated its payload – firstly, deploying a 1 metre long inflatable boom comprising a metal-polymer laminate tube, using a cool gas generator (CGG) to provide the inflation gas, and secondly, using a brushless DC motor at the end of the boom to extend four lightweight bistable rigid composite (BRC) booms to draw out the 3.1m x 3.1m square, 12 micron thick polymer drag-sail. As intended, the satellite immediately began to lose alti-tude, and re-entered the atmosphere just 72 days later – thus demonstrating for the first time the de-orbiting of a spacecraft using European inflatable and drag-sail technologies. The boom/drag-sail technology developed by SSC will next be used on the RemoveDebris mission, due for launch in 2018, which will demon-strate the capturing and de-orbiting of artificial space debris targets using a net and harpoon system.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Electronic Engineering
Authors :
Viquerat, A
Fellowes, S
Schenk, M
Bridges, C P
Masutti, D
Denis, A
Date : 29 September 2018
DOI : 978-0-87703-647-0
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright ©2017 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved.
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 18 Sep 2018 12:05
Last Modified : 04 Oct 2018 12:54

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