Structural evaluation for electrodynamic tape tethers against hypervelocity space debris impacts

Kanjuro Makihara, Shu Kondo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a structural evaluation for electrodynamic tape tethers that can resist collisions with small items of space debris. To actively remove space debris such as defunct satellites from orbit, an electrodynamic tether that exploits the interaction between the geomagnetic flux and plasma electrons has been proposed. Among various types of tether, the large width and surface area of tape-shaped designs can resist critical impacts with small items of debris and collect manyelectrons from plasma space, resulting in successful removal missions. The survival possibility of tether systems in orbital paths evaluates the likelihood of a successful removal mission. In this paper, the relationship between the structural geometries of tape tethers and the impact hole caused by debris impacts is analyzed through large-scale hypervelocity impact experiments. A damage evaluation method based on stress concentration at the impact hole is then proposed to formulate the survivability of tape tethers. Finally, this paper evaluates the survivability of bare tape tethers, enabling comprehensive design guidelines to be identified for improving the survivability. An overall insight into electrodynamic tape tethers should be used for their detailed structural design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-472
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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