CubeSat to test harnessing Earth's magnetic field for propulsion

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by Calliers, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Calliers

    Calliers Administrator Staff Member

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    A student-built CubeSat from the University of Michigan will investigate whether small satellites can be maintained in low Earth orbit without thrusters or propellant. Scheduled to launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Virgin Orbit’s Launch Demo 2 on January 10, 2020, the Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment-1 (MiTEE-1) will test the concept of using the Earth's magnetic field to generate thrust.

    About 60 percent of all satellites are in low Earth orbit. This is a bit of a problem because, though on a human scale it's a vacuum, there's actually a thin trace of atmosphere present – enough to generate drag, which causes the satellite's orbit to decay until it burns up on reentry.

    The usual way to overcome this is to use thrusters to boost the satellite into a higher orbit, but for smaller spacecraft, and especially CubeSats, this isn't currently an option – although efforts like the ThermaSat design are looking to bring lightweight propulsion systems to CubeSats. The result is that many perfectly good pieces of hardware are destroyed prematurely, deorbiting in a matter of months or even days.

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  2. SpaceJac111

    SpaceJac111 New Member

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    All colleges that use such engineering programs, letting students build satellites deserve special attention. I'm very glad that young people are interested in space and try their hand at building satellites that then are launched into space. Unfortunately, I finished my studies long ago, but I would like to participate in such a program and create my own CubeSat with my groupmates. My dream is to create a CubeSat with high-resolution imagery like this Caiman imager I found on the web. I suppose it will show a good result. This imager is under development, and I'm waiting until the company releases it and launches into space.
     

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