As a result of discarded upper stages, dead satellites, and assorted pieces from staging and tank explosions, space debris in Earth orbit has been growing since the beginning of the space age.
Propellantless Electrodynamic Propulsion
An SBIR Phase III contract, entitled “Technology Maturation of the EDDE Vehicle,” has been awarded to Star Technology and Research Inc. (STAR), to mature the EDDE hardware and operating concepts through detailed analysis and ground-based technology development. STAR will focus on reducing the main technical risks that affect the design, cost, mass, safety, control, performance, reliability, and survivability of the EDDE vehicle, and on maturing the technology associated with safe and reliable deployment, orbit transfers, collision avoidance, and rendezvous.
Plans include collaborating with NRL on a cubesat (TEPCE) mission and evaluating secondary launch opportunities for a TetherSat. In parallel to the EDDE investigation, engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center are also performing studies on using a electrodynamic tether for space debris removal; the title of this task is Propulsion Using Electrodynamics (PROPEL). As part of the Clean Space project potential debris capture devices and mechanisms will be identified and assessed through separate studies planned in the near future.
Principal Technologist: Pete Lillehei (email@example.com)