The workgroup satellite technology was founded in the course of the restructuring of the Institute of Space Systems. The Satellite Technology group examines the active removal of space debris. The main research areas include:
In the long term, the group plans the development of small satellites for on-orbit testing and verification of research results. For this purpose, the necessary infrastructure consisting of a satellite integration room and a ground station for communication is being established.
New mission concepts for the implementation of "Active Debris Removal" are designed. In particular, uncooperative targets such as tumbling rocket upper stages are considered. These are to be stabilized via the docking of a servicer and thus prepared for a controlled re-entry. The focus here lies particularly on the multibody dynamics and attitude control in space.
A docking mechanism for the servicer is under development on the basis of biologically inspired materials. Mechanisms based on adhesive bionic materials which mimic the properties of gecko feet are investigated.
To validate the docking mechanism, as well as navigation techniques, a test environment is set up consisting of an air-bearing table, a robotic arm and several testing bodies (simulated experimental satellites). It is noteworthy that the experimental satellites do not require separate supply of compressed gas and thus long-term simulations are possible.
The main research focuses of the satellite technology group include: