Bare Tethers for Electrodynamic Spacecraft Propulsion

Estes, Robert D. and Lorenzini, Enrico C. and Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón and Peláez Álvarez, Jesús and Martínez Sánchez, Manuel and Jhonson, C.L. and Vas, I.E. (2000). Bare Tethers for Electrodynamic Spacecraft Propulsion. "Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets", v. 37 (n. 2); pp. 205-211. ISSN 0022-4650.


Title: Bare Tethers for Electrodynamic Spacecraft Propulsion
  • Estes, Robert D.
  • Lorenzini, Enrico C.
  • Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón
  • Peláez Álvarez, Jesús
  • Martínez Sánchez, Manuel
  • Jhonson, C.L.
  • Vas, I.E.
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Date: March 2000
ISSN: 0022-4650
Volume: 37
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Aeronáuticos (UPM)
Department: Física Aplicada a la Ingeniería Aeronáutica [hasta 2014]
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Electrodynamic tether thrusters can use the power provided by solar panels to drive a current in the tether and then the Lorentz force to push against the Earth's magnetic field, thereby achieving propulsion without the expenditure of onboard energy sources or propellant. Practical tether propulsion depends critically on being able to extract multiamp electron currents from the ionosphere with relatively short tethers (10 km or less) and reasonably low power. We describe a new anodic design that uses an uninsulated portion of the metallic tether itself to collect electrons. Because of the efficient collection of this type of anode, electrodynamic thrusters for reboost of the International Space Station and for an upper stage capable of orbit raising, lowering, and inclination changes appear to be feasible. Specifically, a 10-km-long bare tether, utilizing 10 kW of the space station power could save most of the propellant required for the station reboost over its 10-year lifetime. The propulsive small expendable deployer system experiment is planned to test the bare-tether design in space in the year 2000 by deploying a 5-km bare aluminum tether from a Delta II upper stage to achieve up to 0.5-N drag thrust, thus deorbiting the stage.

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Item ID: 26489
DC Identifier:
OAI Identifier:
DOI: 10.2514/2.3567
Official URL:
Deposited by: Biblioteca ETSI Aeronauticos
Deposited on: 25 May 2014 06:49
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2014 11:41
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