Early morning on the 11th of November, the launch window has opened for the Rocket Lab Electron rocket #ItsBusinessTime. Onboard was also the dragsail technology demonstrator NABEO-1 developed by the Munich based SME HPS GmbH. Such dragsails are a means to passively remove satellites from highly congested Low Earth Orbit regions after their mission life without the need of the spacecraft being alive. Such subsystems are considered as SDM (Space Debris Mitigation) technologies which are greatly supported by the ESA Clean Space Office.
With a dragsail area of 2.5m2deployed from a cubesat sized box (<1U: 10cm x 10cm x 10cm) the NABEO-1 dragsails fit right into the ADEO-N dragsail class for cube and nanosatellites. Further development in dragsails for larger missions (ADEO-L for 100-500kg satellites) are currently undertaken at the ESA GSTP/CleanSpace activity ADEO which will lead to a qualified dragsail Protoflight Model in 2020 with a follow up In-Orbit Demonstration Mission right after.
The #ItsBusinessTime rocket was launched from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 at the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand. The NABEO-1 subsystem is attached to the kick stage (3rdstage) of the Electron rocket and it stayed on the kick stage for its deployment which is monitored via an onboard camera. The dragsail will stay attached on the kick stage for the entire deorbit and it is planned to track the de-orbiting via optical telescopes.
The opportunity to fly the NABEO technology demonstrator on the #ItsBusinessTime mission was offered by Rocket Lab (Huntington Beach, CA, USA / Auckland, New Zealand) and Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation (Pasadena, CA, USA) via Ecliptic’s Hosted Payload Program (HPP), with NABEO-1 serving as a pathfinder for demonstrating the Electron rocket’s hosted payload capabilities. The NABEO-1 subsystem development at HPS GmbH was co-funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic affairs, Energy and Technology. The foundations for the dragsail technology have been laid in 2017 by joint research activities between the DLR Institute for Space Systems (Bremen), Fraunhofer Ernst Mach Institute (Freiburg), and HPS GmbH (Munich).
Following the presentation of ‘The ADEO Passive De-Orbit Subsystem: Reference Mission Selection and Preliminary Design of Proto Flight Model‘ and the NABEO-1 at ESTEC during the 2018 Clean Space Industrial Days, we invited Thomas Sinn and Hugo Garcia-Hemme – both working on NABEO-1 in HPS Gmbh – to write a post for our blog.
We wish a fantastic and successful mission to the entire team of NABEO-1!