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Electrodynamic Tether Technology for Passive Consumable-less Deorbit Kit

Objective

The Low Work-function Tether (LWT) is a long conductive tape coated with a material that enhances thermionic and photoelectric electron emissions. It enables spacecraft to de-orbit and/or re-boost without the need for consumables. It interacts passively with its environment (ambient plasma, magnetic field and solar radiation) to exchange momentum with the planet’s magnetosphere. E.T.PACK aims at developing a proof of concept for LWTs by breaking through and combining the current frontier of knowledge in three fields: plasma physics, low work function material science and space tethers. These will be integrated into a deorbit kit and a flight simulator for mission analysis. The kit aims to reach Technology Readiness Level 4 and will have two modes of operation: as a fully passive LWT and as a conventional electrodynamic tether equipped with an active hollow-cathode (backup mode). A new coating process for the electride, C12A7 ([Ca24Al28O64]4+(4e-)), will be developed, and used to manufacture a LWT demonstrator. The C12A7 and its extraordinary properties will be also applied to the hollow cathode of the kit, which will include a novel deployment mechanism specifically designed for LWT applications. The complex current exchange of LWTs with the ambient plasma under space-charge-conditions will be studied theoretically, and used to develop accurate simulators. The theory-experiment comparisons will lead to a solid framework for LWT operation and constraints, including thermal, mechanical, optical, electrical, ATOX and UV resistance, and survivability. Hitherto impossible mission scenarios will be explored, thus opening up new horizons in space science and technology. These interdisciplinary activities, placed at the cutting edge of their fields and highly interdependent, make E.T.PACK a high-risk project. This is fully compensated by its potential impact: Europe being the first with access to a reversible in-space propulsion technology free of consumables.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/materials engineering/coating and films

Call for proposal

H2020-FETOPEN-2018-2019-2020-01
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Funding Scheme

RIA - Research and Innovation action

Coordinator

UNIVERSIDAD CARLOS III DE MADRID
Address
Calle Madrid 126
28903 Getafe (Madrid)
Spain
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 468 587,50

Participants (6)

FRAUNHOFER GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG E.V.
Germany
EU contribution
€ 638 975
Address
Hansastrasse 27C
80686 Munchen
Activity type
Research Organisations
UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI PADOVA
Italy
EU contribution
€ 401 125
Address
Via 8 Febbraio 2
35122 Padova
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET DRESDEN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 699 275
Address
Helmholtzstrasse 10
01069 Dresden
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
SENER INGENIERIA Y SISTEMAS SA

Participation ended

Spain
EU contribution
€ 0
Address
Avenida Zugazarte 56
48930 Getxo
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
ADVANCED THERMAL DEVICES S.L.
Spain
EU contribution
€ 148 377,50
Address
C/ Villaconejos 4 Algette
28925 Alcorcon
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
SENER AEROESPACIAL SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
Spain
EU contribution
€ 643 659,87
Address
Avda Zugazarte 56
48930 Las Arenas
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)