An alternative concept of docking for the ConeXpress satellite

ConeXpress is an affordable multi-mission platform that will be launched as auxiliary payload on the Ariane 5 launcher and as such it exploits the excess launch capacity of Ariane 5 for easy access to space. The satellite can be used for different missions depending on the payload placed in it. The primary objective of ConeXpress is to perform in-orbit servicing. Two years ago the company Orbital Recovery Ltd started to pursue the market of in-orbit servicing and has now teamed with Dutch Space to develop ConeXpress as an Orbital Recovery System. ConeXpress Orbital Recovery System will prolong the operational life of telecommunication satellites by supplying guidance, navigation and propulsion for station keeping and attitude control for an additional 8-10 years.

This Master’s Thesis is concerned with the docking phase of the ConeXpress project. The model for the baseline docking phase is currently being developed at Dutch Space and the main mechanical element of the docking system is the Capture Tool, constructed by DLR in Germany. The Capture Tool is inserted into the apogee kick engine nozzle of a client satellite where it expands and locks in the throat of the engine nozzle. This Master’s Thesis will deal with a possible alternative concept to the docking phase. This approach will reduce the mass of the satellite by using only sensors and control and not any mechanical structures that would complicate the docking. Using the alternative concept for docking the Capture Tool could be abandoned and also the high position and orientation control requirements associated with it.

Author: Hannukka, Inga-Lena

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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