Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples “Federico II”, P.le V. Tecchio 80, 80125 Napoli, Italy.
In the present work new concepts of de-orbit and re-entry modules for standard CubeSats are presented. On the one hand, these modules can be very useful to contrast the growing phenomenon of the Space debris and, on the other hand, to recover Cubesat payload and components after the end of the mission.
The concepts are mainly based on deployable, umbrella-like, structures, useful to perform de-orbit and re-entry operations taking advantage from a substantial reduction of the ballistic coefficient.
In the de-orbit configuration the deployable structure works only as an aerobrake. In this case the satellite lifetime may be strongly reduced, making it possible to match the CubeSat maximum decay requirement of 25 years, even for altitudes larger than 700 km.
In the Earth re-entry configuration the ballistic parameter reduction produces also a sensible decrease of the aerothermal loads on the system, giving the opportunity to recover payload, potential data and satellite components. In this case the umbrella-like structure has both the function to protect the capsule and to control de-orbit and re-entry trajectories, in order to safely reach the desired landing site. The structure can be deployed by means of preloaded springs or other actuators and, once the umbrella is opened, the reference surface can be adjusted to control the trajectory with a kinematic mechanism driven by an electro-mechanical actuator.