On Saturday, November 11, the patented Detumbler device built by Airbus to prevent satellites from tumbling at the end of their lives was launched into space. The gadget will be tested in space on the mission that is being conducted in conjunction with Exotrail and EnduroSat in the early months of 2024.
The Detumbler is a magnetic damping device mounted to a satellite. It was developed in 2021 by Airbus and backed by the French Space Agency CNES as part of their Tech4SpaceCare effort. A central rotor wheel and magnets that engage in interaction with the magnetic field of the Earth are both components of the Detumbler. If the spacecraft starts to tumble, the rotor movement will create eddy currents that operate as friction torque, dampening the spacecraft’s speed. When the satellite flies normally, the rotor functions like a compass by tracking the magnetic field.
The dynamics of orbital flight cause dead satellites, particularly those in low Earth orbit (LEO), to tumble frequently, which is a natural phenomenon. If spacecraft are rotating, active debris removal missions in the future will confront a more difficult issue. The Airbus Detumbler, which weighs somewhere over 100 grams, has the potential to be an important tool for future missions. Its purpose is to stop satellites from tumbling after their operational lives have come to an end, which makes it simpler to retrieve them during debris-clearing operations.
The in-orbit demonstration of the Detumbler is slated to take place in the early part of 2024 on a mission that will be headed by Exotrail (SpaceVan). This mission will also involve the EnduroSat Exo-0 nanosatellite. Soon, specialised detumbling tests will be conducted to verify the Detumbler’s ability to stifle motion.