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Guidance of magnetic space tug

Abstract : Magnetic tugging of a target satellite without thrust capacity can be interesting in various contexts, as for example End-Of-Life management, or to complete launchers capabilities. The aim is to gradually modify the orbit of the target by constantly exerting on it a magnetic force. To do so, the chaser is assumed equipped with a steerable magnetic dipole, able to create both forces and torques on the magnetic torque rods carried by the target. The chaser is also supposed to carry electric thrusters, creating a continuous force which modifies the orbit of the whole formation composed of chaser and target. The relative motions of both satellites are derived, in order to assess the feasibility of such a concept. Relative configuration (attitudes and position) trajectories are derived, which are compliant with the dynamics, and enable the chaser to tug the target. Considering targets in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the magnetic field of the Earth is taken into account, modelled by the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF). The position of the magnetic torque rod of the target may not be located at its center of mass. This lever-arm is taken into account in the dynamics. As for every Electro-Magnetic Formation Flight concept developed in the literature, satellites involved in magnetic tugging are constantly subjected to torques, created by the Earth magnetic field and by the magnetic fields created by the other satellites in the formation. In this study, the solution chosen to face this problem is to take into account the attitude equilibrium of the satellites early in the guidance phase, in order to avoid having to wave the dipole, as it is generally done. Promising results are presented for different types of orbit, showing that the concept could be feasible in many different scenarios.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 4:02:00 PM
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Emilien Fabacher, Stéphanie Lizy-Destrez, Daniel Alazard, Finn Ankersen, Alexandre Profizi. Guidance of magnetic space tug. Advances in Space Research, Elsevier, 2017, vol. 60 (n° 1), pp. 14-27. ⟨10.1016/j.asr.2017.03.042⟩. ⟨hal-01738578⟩



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