Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ReDSHIFT Report Summary

Project ID: 687500
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ReDSHIFT (Revolutionary Design of Spacecraft through Holistic Integration of Future Technologies)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

"In ReDSHIFT the goals of reducing the impact of debris on space activities by prevention, protection and mitigation will be achieved through a holistic approach that considers opposing and challenging constraints for the space environment preservation, the spacecraft survivability in space and the safety of humans on ground.
The overall objective is to push for improved mitigation measures with the use of theoretical results on spacecraft orbital dynamics coupled with new technologies, such as solar and drag sails (light structures increasing the area of the spacecraft and exploiting the push of the solar radiation pressure -solar sail- or the drag produced by the residual atmosphere). The new paradigm of 3D printing should be applied to enhance some aspects of the spacecraft design and manufacturing concurring to the mitigation efforts, such as sail attachment and storage, shielding and design for demise.
The plot of the project is as follows. An analysis of the currently adopted mitigation measures is performed, to highlight their benefits and, possibly, deficiencies in some aspects. This is assisted by simulations of the long term evolution of the space debris environment showing the overall effects of the measures in a measurable way. These simulations will serve also as the reference to assess the results achieved at the end of the project.
While it is well known that the fundamental step to preserve the space environment is the disposal of the spacecraft at end-of-life, the maneuvers needed to achieve this goal might not be practicable for energetic or technical reasons. A thorough understanding of the orbital dynamics will allow us to identify stability and instability region in space, and to exploit them to find preferential routes (we called them "de-orbiting highways") minimizing the energetic requirements for the operators, improving the applicability of the disposal maneuvers. Once identified, the maneuvers needed to reach the "entrances" to the highways or the graveyard regions will be computed and the technical means to be used will be identified. The project is focusing mainly on a few passive technologies (not requiring additional propellant) such as solar and drag sails. The theoretical aspects of the sail dynamics and the technological aspects of sail manufacturing will be tackled. The focus will also be on spacecraft designed for demise, to minimize the chances that chunks of the spacecraft might reach the ground.
To make the technological solutions easier and more attractive to produce and implement in future spacecraft design, ReDSHIFT will explore the possibility to use additive manufacturing (3D printing), to realize and test a model spacecraft and, in particular, specific parts related to the debris mitigation issues, such as the shielding, the sail canister, hatches and joints, etc.
The outputs of the projects will include a software summarizing the findings, allowing the design of a debris compliant mission (e.g., by suggesting the disposal trajectories and the technologies needed to achieve them, the shielding options for a spacecraft, the possibility to produce it with 3D printing, etc.).
The results will be applied to the analysis of the normative related to space debris, to propose improved mitigation practices and rules."

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"A critical analysis of the currently adopted mitigation measures was performed. The technologies adopted to this end were reviewed, highlighting their Technology Readiness Level. To quantify the effectiveness of the most common measures, long term simulations including an analysis of the effects of the compliance level to the mitigation measures, of the residual lifetime of the spacecraft at end-of-life (25 years with respect to 10 years), of the collision avoidance, of the active debris removal and of the proposed launch of megaconstellations of satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), were performed.
The dynamical mapping of the LEO to GEO space was performed, dividing it in a fine grid in the orbital elements. About 20 millions of orbits were propagated for 120 years assuming, for the test object, first an Area-to-Mass ratio equal to that of standard satellites (0.012 m2/kg) and then with augmented area (1 m2/kg, simulating the presence of a sail). The output of the propagations was stored in terms of maps displaying, e.g., the lifetime or the maximum eccentricity growth for the orbits during the propagation time span. From the maps, the stable and unstable regions were identified. The physical reasons responsible for the noted behaviors was traced back to the resonances between the effects of the geopotential, lunisolar attraction and solar radiation pressure. For LEOs, a few resonant inclinations, shortening the orbital lifetime, were identified. The stability and the presence of chaos were classified with the chaos indicators, such as the Fast Lyapounov Indicator. The maps are assembled in an "atlas" to be used to identify the most convenient de-orbiting or re-orbiting options.
The dynamics of the solar sail de-orbiting was studied, concentrating on the passive sailing, showing that solar sail deorbiting can be a viable option for small to medium satellites in LEO and MEO.
In the design topic the work was devoted to the definition of the system requirements needed to reach the project objectives and to the review of the aspects of spacecraft design relevant to the debris mitigation, such as common spacecraft designs, modern shielding concepts, breakup models and 3D printing materials and components. The focus will be on 3D printing at component level such as primary structure, multifunctional structures (embedded wiring, power generation, electronic shielding, micro impact shielding performance, heat dissipation), deployable structures, antenna reflector, etc. A roadmap of technologies to be developed was elaborated, with the assessment of the operational risks that might endanger the project flow.
The high level design of the software was completed: the general architecture and all the building modules were defined, with their interrelation and functional links.
The project, and its first results, were presented in forums, such as the Inter Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, in international conferences, e.g., the International Astronautical Conference 2016, in public events with local authorities and industrial partners, in academia to students, in local radios, etc."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"The dynamical mapping of the whole circumterrestrial space produced an atlas with an unprecedented level of detail, showing the most promising regions where the "deorbiting highways" or the stable graveyards can be found. Along with the atlas, an innovative study was made (and is still undergoing) of the physical reasons for the observed dynamical behavior. The partners are envisaging the possibility to make the atlas public on the project website, paving the way to a wider use of the concept of dynamics disposal, with the aim of enhancing the compliance with the deorbiting at the end-of-life practices. Easing the energetic requirements for de-orbiting can increase the general compliance, reducing the proliferation of the debris population.
The analysis on the application of 3D printing to spacecraft components specific to the space debris mitigation integrates in the developing industrial paradigm of additive manufacturing and will contribute to the advancement of the European competitiveness."

Related information

Record Number: 198353 / Last updated on: 2017-05-18