A series of de-orbit mechanism for active prevention and reduction of space debris

Toshinori Kuwahara, Kazuya Yoshida, Yuji Sakamoto, Yoshihiro Tomioka, Kazufumi Fukuda, Nobuo Sugimura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Recently small satellite development activities became popular throughout the world and the number of satellites being developed and launched a year is becoming larger. Many of these satellites are launched into orbits where they remain orbiting around the Earth for centuries in vain even after their mission life time. It became recently a world's serious concern that these space debris prevent human beings from safe space development and exploration activities in the near future. Therefore there is a great interest on debris prevention and reduction methods. Tohoku University has been very active in satellite development activities for years and has already successfully developed, tested, and launched its first microsatellite SPRITE-SAT (renamed as RISING-1 after the launch) in 2009 and CubeSat RAIKO in 2013, and is completing the second and third microsatellites RISING-2 and RISES AT. Due to the above mentioned background, Tohoku University has also initiated a development activity of sail deployment mechanisms in order to de-orbit the used microsatellite mainly by means of the residual atmospheric drags. The mechanism itself has a cylinder form and utilizes unique deployable booms which can be folded down very compactly. The stored thin film inside the mechanism is pulled out of the case by the deployment force produced by the booms. Three different sizes of models have been developed, and their functionalities are verified. The important characteristic of this mechanism is that the size of the sail can be modified very easily depending on the requirements of the spacecraft. Preparing deferent size of sails, this kind of de-orbit mechanism can become the standard prevention and reduction measures of space debris. This paper describes the development and qualification results of these mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, IAC 2013
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9781629939094
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, IAC 2013 - Beijing, China
Duration: 2013 Sept 232013 Sept 27

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
ISSN (Print)0074-1795


Conference64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, IAC 2013


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