Ph.D. Thesis Proposal: Alexandra Cheryl Long

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Monday January 30, 2017 - Tuesday January 31, 2017
      3:00 pm - 4:59 pm
  • Location: Montgomery Knight Building Room 317
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Summary Sentence: "Development of Passively Stable Pyramid Sail ([ps]2) to Deorbit Small Satellites"

Full Summary: Alexandra Cheryl Long will present her proposal for doctoral research in the  "Development of Passively Stable Pyramid Sail ([ps]2) to Deorbit Small Satellites" 3 p.m., Monday, January 30 Montgomery Knight Building -317  

Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal by

Alexandra Cheryl Long

Advisor: Dr. David Spencer

Development of Passively Stable Pyramid Sail ([ps]2) to Deorbit Small Satellites

3 p.m., Monday, January 30, Montgomery Knight Building -317


Orbital debris is a growing problem in low-Earth orbit; it has crossed a threshold of critical density where the number of debris objects will grow exponentially due to collisions unless actively mitigated. There are a number of commercial companies that intend to launch hundreds to thousands of micro-satellites in Low-Earth Orbit at altitudes ranging from 1,000-1,200 km with the goal of providing global internet service. The need to deorbit these microsatellites at the end of their operational lifetime is apparent.  This study investigates a standardized bolt-on system to address the deorbit problem for microsatellites, with applicability to planned large constellations of 150 kg-class satellites at 1,100-1,200 km altitudes. Through a trade study, it was determined that a passive drag sail device provides a reliable approach for satellite deorbit.  To reliably deorbit within 25 years, the drag sail should be designed to provide aerodynamic stability, trimming to a maximum drag attitude. A stability analysis determine that the sail should be a square pyramid shape with an apex half-angle of 75° to ensure stability. Prototype hardware development for the drag device is planned, with three main phases. The first is the boom deployer design and analysis, which includes prototype development and an analysis on boom blossoming in the system. The second is the sail mounting design, which includes connecting the sail segments to the booms and folding them for the stowed configuration. The final phase is the system prototype testing to ensure that the booms and sails deploy together creating the desired shape.

Committee Members:

Dr. E. Glenn Lightsey
Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Julian Rimoli
Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology

Mr. Mark Schoenenberger
Atmospheric Flight and Entry Systems Branch
NASA Langley Research Center

Mr. Les Johnson
Advanced Concepts Office
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center




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School of Aerospace Engineering

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aerospace engineering
  • Created By: Margaret Ojala
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jan 17, 2017 - 2:55pm
  • Last Updated: Apr 13, 2017 - 5:13pm