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The big Space spring clean

News International-French

13 Mar 2014

The European Conference on Space Debris recently highlighted an urgent need to start removing redundant objects out of orbit. Unless items are eliminated, collisions will be inevitable and space will become extremely hazardous. maxon motor uk has been working with the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) on their experimental solution.

To combat the problem of the increasing density of debris in low Earth orbit (LEO), the Inter-Agency Space Debris Co-ordination Committee (IADC), the United Nations and other agencies have recommended the implementation of a set of guidelines by which it should be demonstrated that all launch vehicles and satellites will not remain in LEO for more than 25 years beyond the end of their service lives. Drag deorbiting sails are one of two main competing technologies likely to emerge as the tools used to meet these guidelines.

The Surrey Space Centre‘s (SSC) drag deorbiting sail project, Inflatesail, contains two experimental structural components. The first is an inflatable rigidisable mast and the second is an ultra-lightweight polymer sail. The sail is supported by four custom manufactured ‘bistable’ carbon fibre booms which are wound around a central hub. Maxon Motor GP 16C planetary gearheads, combined with 16mm brushless DC motors from the maxon EC-max family, are used to drive and control the deployment of the booms.

The ceramic components are wear and corrosion resistant for longer life and enable stability over a wide range of temperatures. The brushless DC motor and gearhead are fitted with high performance Braycote grease, which is non-flammable, suitable for extreme temperatures, is chemically inert and designed to be used in a deep space vacuum.

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