Analysis and Design of a Prototype Artificial Gravity Generating Tethered Satellite System
Poster Abstract

John H. Hoffman1, Andre Mazzoleni2, and Andrew Santangelo3

1Department of Physics, University of Texas at Dallas, P.O .Box 830688, Richardson, TX 75083 972-883-2846 Email:
2Department of Engineering, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129 817-257-6317 email:
3The Michigan Technic Corporation, Holland, MI 49424 616-399-4045 email:

Abstract. Prolonged exposure in humans to a microgravity environment can lead to significant loss of bone and muscle mass; this presents a formidable obstacle to human exploration of space, particularly for missions requiring travel times of several months or more, such as on a trip to Mars. One possible remedy for this situation is to use a spent booster as a "counter-weight" and tether it to the crew cabin for the purpose of spinning up the counter-weight/cabin system about its common center of mass like a dumbbell, hence generating artificial gravity. However, much needs to be learned about the dynamics and stability of such tethered systems before they can become flight possibilities. The investigation of spin-up dynamics, along with other aspects of tethered systems, is the focus of the ASTOR (Advanced Safety Tether Operation and Reliability) Satellite project, which will be discussed in this paper. After the 65-kg ASTOR satellite is delivered into orbit, the payload will automatically separate into two equal halves and the Emergency Tether Deployment (ETD) system will commence the deployment of the tether. After the deployment process is complete, a spin-up experiment will commence. This will be accomplished by reeling onto a take-up reel in the deployer a portion of the tether. As the tether is reeled back in, a rapid increase in the rotational motion in the system will occur; due to the presence of gravity-gradient torques, however, angular momentum will not be conserved, so equations of motion must be generated and integrated numerically to determine the behavior of the system. Preliminary results of this investigation are presented in this paper.