1455. Capture-Ejector Satellites


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Ian O. MacConochie, C H Eldred, J A Martin: 1455. Capture-Ejector Satellites. 1982.



In this paper, a satellite in the form of a large rotating rim is described which can be used to boost spacecraft from low-Earth orbit to higher orbits. The rim rotates in the plane of its orbit such that the lower portion of the rim is traveling at less than orbital velocity, while the upper portion is traveling at greater than orbital velocity. Ascending spacecraft or payloads arrive at the lowest portion of the rim at less than orbital velocities, attach to the rim’s perimeter, and remain on that portion of the rim until it reaches its highest point, where the payload is released on a trajectory for higher orbits. Large reductions in the size of Earth-to-orbit transports are possible when using this device. The amount of the velocity increment which can be imparted to a given payload is only limited by the strength of the material of the rim and the permissible centrifugal acceleration allowed on the payloads. Potential application includes transfer from low-Earth orbit to a space station or to geosynchronous orbit. Transfers from a high to low-Earth orbit or entry can also be accomplished by employing the reverse procedure. Electric thrusters are placed on the rim in order to maintain rim rotational speed and altitude.


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