The Institute of Aerospace Systems has carried out a feasibility study for a service satellite for geostationary pay loads. These pay loads are for instance communications satellites and weather satellites. The study included partners from 7 countries.
The task of the so-called ROGER satellite (Robotic Geostationary Orbit Restorer) is the removal of disused satellites from the geostationary ring and their transport to the so-called graveyard orbit about 400 km above the geostationary orbit. This service liable for costs can be offered to satellite operators, e.g SES/Astra with the well-known TV-satellites, with the assumption that such a satellite disposal will be required by international agreements. The benefit for satellite operators is an extension of the operational and therefore profitable period of 12-18 months, as no fuel for the transfer to the graveyard orbit has to be allocated.
ROGER will, according to the current layout, be launched by the European carrier rocket Ariane 5 and be able to „dispose of“ 20 satellites per mission.
A big challange for ROGER is the „capture“ of the satellites, for which two methods have been designed. The first method consists of a net, which is connected to ROGER with a rope and which encloses the target object. The satellite is then carried to the graveyard orbit with precise short thrusts, which also serve to keep the rope tense. The rope is cut when the satellite arrives at the destination and satellite as well as the net remains on the graveyard orbit. After that, ROGER maneuvers towards the next object, which has to be transported. For every transfer maneuver an additional net has to be available. The second method uses a gripper, which is connected to ROGER with a rope. The transfer to the graveyard orbit likewise takes place with precise short thrusts. However, unkile the net the gripper is reusable.
ROGER Study Team:
Astrium GmbH, Bremen (prime contractor)
Institute of Aerospace Systems, TU Braunschweig
EADS Launch Vehicles, France
DLR – Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Munich (German Center of Aerospace Systems)
Delaware University, USA
MacDonald Dettweiler Space Robotics Ltd., Kanada
Space Applications Services, Belgium
Tohoku University, Japan