Electric Space Sail plans for leveraging 1000 meter tethers for interesting near term cubesat missions

ESAIL: Electric SAIL propulsion technology was presented in late 2014

The ESAIL EU FP7 project (2011-2013) developed laboratory prototypes (TRL 4-5) of the key components of the E-sail. The project involved five countries, nine institutes and had a EU contributed budget of about 1.7 million euros

E-sail construction
• Positive tethers (10-20 km length made of 25-50 um wire, +20-40 kV voltage)
• Up to 1 Newton thrust (scales as 1/r) from 100-200 kg unit (30 km/s delta-v per year to 1000 kg spacecraft)
• Power consumption modest, scales as 1/r²
• Baseline approach uses non-conducting Auxiliary Tethers to stabilise flight without active control
• “Remote Units” at tips contain auxtether reels and spinup propulsion/spin control

Planned E-sail missions
• BCUBE: 3-U CubeSat in LEO with 1 km tether
– Demonstrate Plasma Brake deorbiting of the satellite
– Flight-validate hardware for ECUBE

• ECUBE: 3-U CubeSat in solar wind with 1 km tether
– Nearly identical with BCUBE, but different orbit
– Measure E-sail effect in solar wind (for example, lunar mission piggyback)
– Demonstrate simple E-sailing in solar wind

• OLCUBE: 3-U CubeSat near Lagrange L1 point for off-Lagrange solar wind monitoring

– First scientific/commercial application of E-sail: space weather prediction with longer warning time
•“Production-scale” E-sail demonstration mission (NEO?)

Conclusions
• ESAIL reached its goal: E-sail technology is at TRL 4-5

• 1 km piece of tether was successfully made

• Predicted E-sail performance level is revolutionary
– Disruptive technology

• Outside ESAIL: ESTCube-1 is in orbit (10 m tether), Aalto-1 launched 2015 (100 m tether)

• Roadmap (still unfunded) of three CubeSat missions
– The third one is scientific/commercial mission (off-Lagrange point solar wind monitor)

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Electric Space Sail plans for leveraging 1000 meter tethers for interesting near term cubesat missions

ESAIL: Electric SAIL propulsion technology was presented in late 2014

The ESAIL EU FP7 project (2011-2013) developed laboratory prototypes (TRL 4-5) of the key components of the E-sail. The project involved five countries, nine institutes and had a EU contributed budget of about 1.7 million euros

E-sail construction
• Positive tethers (10-20 km length made of 25-50 um wire, +20-40 kV voltage)
• Up to 1 Newton thrust (scales as 1/r) from 100-200 kg unit (30 km/s delta-v per year to 1000 kg spacecraft)
• Power consumption modest, scales as 1/r²
• Baseline approach uses non-conducting Auxiliary Tethers to stabilise flight without active control
• “Remote Units” at tips contain auxtether reels and spinup propulsion/spin control

Planned E-sail missions
• BCUBE: 3-U CubeSat in LEO with 1 km tether
– Demonstrate Plasma Brake deorbiting of the satellite
– Flight-validate hardware for ECUBE

• ECUBE: 3-U CubeSat in solar wind with 1 km tether
– Nearly identical with BCUBE, but different orbit
– Measure E-sail effect in solar wind (for example, lunar mission piggyback)
– Demonstrate simple E-sailing in solar wind

• OLCUBE: 3-U CubeSat near Lagrange L1 point for off-Lagrange solar wind monitoring

– First scientific/commercial application of E-sail: space weather prediction with longer warning time
•“Production-scale” E-sail demonstration mission (NEO?)

Conclusions
• ESAIL reached its goal: E-sail technology is at TRL 4-5

• 1 km piece of tether was successfully made

• Predicted E-sail performance level is revolutionary
– Disruptive technology

• Outside ESAIL: ESTCube-1 is in orbit (10 m tether), Aalto-1 launched 2015 (100 m tether)

• Roadmap (still unfunded) of three CubeSat missions
– The third one is scientific/commercial mission (off-Lagrange point solar wind monitor)

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