CubeSats are rapidly becoming one of the easiest and cheapest ways to exploit space. At the same time the effort in expanding and enhancing their capabilities is rapidly leading to the definition of a very responsive standardized platform with a number of possible applications. One of the major performance-limiting factors for CubeSats, however, is the near- impossibility of selecting, maintaining or changing operational orbits at will. So far, CubeSats have been launched as piggyback payloads; as such, they have no command on the operational orbits in which they will be released. A cost-effective and flexible solution to deploy a swarm of nanosatellites into different orbits is represented by a manoeuvrable deployment vehicle equipped with electric propulsion currently under development at Alta. The goal of this paper is to present this new approach for the CubeSat deployment system. Instead of going through the endeavour of embedding a propulsion system into a single CubeSat, the idea is to provide the deployment system with thrusting capabilities and to use this platform to deliver the various CubeSats into different orbits. The alternative presented here is to consider a manoeuvrable platform as an effective solution to deploy a set of CubeSats into different orbits. Following this approach, it would be possible to have a whole CubeSat constellation deployed on different planes and/or at different altitudes, thus offering a wide range of opportunities to have different kinds of experiments and/or observational data. The use of electric propulsion allows for a larger payload mass fraction with respect to standard chemical thrusters, thanks to the higher specific impulse of these devices. The vehicle design, tailored to the fairing volume and launch mass capability of the Shtil‟ launcher and compatible with standard Cubesat deployers (P-POD), is based on Alta‟s HT-100 Hall effect thruster system. With a specific impulse in excess of 1200 s, the HT-100 can operate at 100 to 400 W for extended periods. The paper outlines the vehicle design and several mission scenarios. A trade-off study among propellant mass, platform architecture, number of deployed CubeSats, and system cost is presented, highlighting the potential benefits to multiple CubeSat or nanosatellite missions.

Design of a Manoeuvrable CubeSat Deployment Vehicle Equipped with Electric Propulsion

MARCUCCIO, SALVO
2012

Abstract

CubeSats are rapidly becoming one of the easiest and cheapest ways to exploit space. At the same time the effort in expanding and enhancing their capabilities is rapidly leading to the definition of a very responsive standardized platform with a number of possible applications. One of the major performance-limiting factors for CubeSats, however, is the near- impossibility of selecting, maintaining or changing operational orbits at will. So far, CubeSats have been launched as piggyback payloads; as such, they have no command on the operational orbits in which they will be released. A cost-effective and flexible solution to deploy a swarm of nanosatellites into different orbits is represented by a manoeuvrable deployment vehicle equipped with electric propulsion currently under development at Alta. The goal of this paper is to present this new approach for the CubeSat deployment system. Instead of going through the endeavour of embedding a propulsion system into a single CubeSat, the idea is to provide the deployment system with thrusting capabilities and to use this platform to deliver the various CubeSats into different orbits. The alternative presented here is to consider a manoeuvrable platform as an effective solution to deploy a set of CubeSats into different orbits. Following this approach, it would be possible to have a whole CubeSat constellation deployed on different planes and/or at different altitudes, thus offering a wide range of opportunities to have different kinds of experiments and/or observational data. The use of electric propulsion allows for a larger payload mass fraction with respect to standard chemical thrusters, thanks to the higher specific impulse of these devices. The vehicle design, tailored to the fairing volume and launch mass capability of the Shtil‟ launcher and compatible with standard Cubesat deployers (P-POD), is based on Alta‟s HT-100 Hall effect thruster system. With a specific impulse in excess of 1200 s, the HT-100 can operate at 100 to 400 W for extended periods. The paper outlines the vehicle design and several mission scenarios. A trade-off study among propellant mass, platform architecture, number of deployed CubeSats, and system cost is presented, highlighting the potential benefits to multiple CubeSat or nanosatellite missions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/251737
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