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Smart propulsive device for controlled satellite reentry and reorbit. Type of funding scheme: SME Instrument

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - D-Orbit (Smart propulsive device for controlled satellite reentry and reorbit.Type of funding scheme: SME Instrument)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2015-05-31

Space is nowadays fundamental for our life. Most of the services we use every day have are based on space assets: weather forecasting, navigation, Earth observation, security, disasters prevention and management, telecommunication, just to name a few of them. For decades, space faring Nations and private organisations have underestimated the fact that orbital space is a limited resources. As a consequence, out of the about 6,000 satellites launched since the beginning of the space age only 1,200 are operational: the remaining wander uncontrolled in the space around Earth and risk to collide against each other or against operational satellites. In addition to this, many dead satellites re-enter uncontrolled into the atmosphere, and their larger components survive to the high heat of the re-entry and may cause damage to assets on ground and persons.
For these and other reasons, Space Operators have becoming to develop methods to remove safely their satellites, pushed by international regulations issued by space agencies, international organisations (e.g. UN and IADC) and national governments.

D-Orbit innovative business project aims to respond to the increasing need to guarantee a safe and clean access to space for both satellite operators and manufacturers, and in general for all the stakeholders involved. This approach has already received positives feedbacks and endorsement from important space players such as ESA, NASA and the Italian Space Agency, as well as from both satellite operators and manufacturers.
Since its establishment, in 2011, D-Orbit has developed a decommissioning device (called D3) for satellites and launcher stages, capable to remove them in a safe and controlled way at the end-of-mission or if a major failure occurs. So far, this technology has been pushed up to a current TRL of 6. D-Orbit intends to validate the D-Orbit's decommissioning concept in Space in early 2016 in D-SAT mission and to collect data, inputs and lessons learnt for updating, optimizing and fine tuning the design, the engineering and the production of the D-Orbit’s D3.
During the Feasibility Assessment D-Orbit has defined the product roadmap for the different classes of satellites and decided to do the final design and engineering optimization of the D3 after the D-SAT mission results will be analysed. Thanks to the feasibility studies, D-Orbit has decided to include a part of the Space mission (D-SAT) to the PH2 project, as the most efficient way to come to the closer point of the commercialization. Furthermore, the feasibility studies conducted in PH1 project has slightly changed the objectives to be implemented in the further product development.
The necessary partnership for the product optimization and commercialisation was established during the feasibility studies. D-Orbit is happy to work with the market leaders, as AVIO, Thales Alenia Space, Critical Software and Bayern-Chemie.
The expected outcome of the project is to start the full commercialization of the D-Orbit decommissioning technology at the end of PH2 as a reliable innovation qualified for Space use and validated by the relevant clients, the satellite manufacturers. In simple words, to introduce to the Space market the device that extends the operative life of the satellite by up to six months, allows for easier and cheaper decommissioning operations, helps re-position the satellite in case of launch failure or for rapid collision avoidance manoeuvres and makes Earth and Space sustainable.
D3 building in-house
ALICE-2 mission, launching moment
Space debris
Decommissioning device motor test
D3 decommissioning device