The ExoMars mission (Exobiology on Mars) is a joint venture of the European Space Agency [+]
E.T.PACK: an autonomous deorbit device based on electrodynamic tether technology
- Client: SENER Aeroespacial, UC3M, IKTS, UNIPD, TUD and ATD
- Country: International
- Start date: 2019
- Ending date: 2022
SENER Aeroespacial and the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) colaborates in the development of E.T. PACK, an autonomous deorbit device or “kit” based on electrodynamic tether technology to eliminate space debris.
The small kit will be mounted on satellites in the future. Once activated from the ground, the kit will deploy an electrodynamic tether that will interact passively with the Earth's magnetosphere, producing a drag force that will cause the satellite to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up.
The electrodynamic tether, a very thin aluminum tape of about a couple of centimeters wide and a couple of kilometers long, uses the ionospheric plasma and the geomagnetic field to generate an electrical current that, thanks to an electrodynamic effect, gives rise to a force known as Lorentz drag. This force deorbits the satellite and produces the re-entry, thus contributing to the sustainable use of the outer space.
Laboratory to integrate the deorbit device
As part of the project, SENER Aerospace and UC3M have set up a laboratory, located in SENER’s facilities in Tres Cantos (Madrid, Spain), which will be used to integrate the avionics system into the deorbit device that is currently under development.
The first complete prototype of the equipment will be ready by late 2022 and it is expeted to mature it in a later project that will end with an in-orbit demonstration by late 2024. The goal is to have the system operational in 2025..
E.T.PACK is a FET-OPEN project funded with €3million by the European Commission. E.T.PACK consortium includes UC3M (Coordinator), SENER Aeroespacial, the universities of Padua (Italy) and Dresden (Germany), the Fraunhofer Institute (Germany) and the Spanish company Advanced Thermal Devices. E.T.PACK has also received support from the Government of the Community of Madrid through one of its Industrial Doctorates.
E.T.PACK, a sustainable solution to put an end to space debris
At present, no country requires companies to the deorbit their satellite at the end of life. The system proposed by E.T.PACK aims to reverse this trend by providing a light, low-cost and highly effective system. The deorbiting kit will be able to communicate with the ground, stabilize a satellite of mass up to 1,000 kg and control the deorbiting maneuver to prevent collisions with other objects.
Other programsSee all
In the frame of PEGASUS programme within EC H2020, a consortium composed by Thales France, [+]