How D-Orbit is Cleaning up the Space Race

Written By: Jacqui Cook
  • 7/29/2020
  • Read Time : 3 min
Space-race-600-280

When Sputnik launched in 1957, it marked the dawn of the space age and, since then, various nations have launched thousands of further satellites and rockets into orbit to see who can lead the race.

In spectacular scenes this weekend, Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket was the latest entry into the history book and will forever be remembered as the first time a crewed orbital launch has left the United States since NASA grounded its operations in 2011.

It’s not the first time Musk has been in the headline for his work in space. Previously, the eccentric entrepreneur launched the Falcon Heavy , the world’s most powerful rocket, with a Tesla sports car safely ensconced in the nosecone.  It circulated the world with David Bowie’s Life on Mars playing on its launch just to make it that little bit more surreal.

The entertainment doesn’t stop there. The arrival of 5G means new satellites will be built from 5G architecture with 5G signals beamed down from space to support the infrastructure on Earth. This will undoubtedly kick-start a new ‘space race’ for satellites, with the consumer promised a seamless wireless experience across the entire globe in return.

These rocket and satellite launches deliver spectacular further steps for man into space and enable far superior telecoms, but they also add to the ever-increasing threat of ‘space debris’ in the solar system.

What is ‘space debris’ and why is it a problem?

Space debris is a term used for defunct human-made objects in space. These nonfunctional objects include discarded satellites, derelict launch vehicle stages, spent rocket stages as well as the fragments from their disintegration, erosion and collisions.

This junk can slam into spacecraft and launching satellites at a combined speed of more than 30,000mph, with the U.S.  Space Surveillance Network using radar to track more than 13,000 items larger than four inches.

British astronaut, Major Tim Peake, commented that a 7mm-diameter circular chip was gouged out of the window of the International Space Station by a tiny piece of space debris when he was on-board.

Furthermore, National Geographic reported last year that there are hundreds of thousands of man-made objects zipping around the universe - from dead satellites to errant nuts and bolts - all putting our working satellites at risk.

Answer: end-of-life satellite clearance

With a rise in the volume of space debris, end-of-life decommissioning of satellites has become a concern for its operators. Satellites’ on-board propulsion systems are not optimized for end-of-life manoeuvres, leading to end-of-life operations that are long, complex, and expensive. These operations can also shorten satellite lifetime and cannot be performed at all when a satellite fails.

An effective and safe removal of end-of-life satellites would mitigate the space debris problem and this is where D-Orbit, a company based in Como in Italy, can help.

Its product, D3, is an independent, smart motor optimized for decommissioning manoeuvres in space. Installed on satellites before launch, D3 removes them from orbit quickly, safely and directly at end-of-life or in the case of major failure.

D-Orbit chose PTC’s Creo, managed by PTC partner Dedagroup Business Solutions,  as its design tool, giving it the flexibility to adapt quickly to different client requests.

D3, which is fully compliant with international space debris regulations, enables satellite operators of constellations to maintain their operational orbits free from uncontrolled satellites and reduce the collision risk at the same time. Depending on the configuration, D3 can perform quick re-entry for LEO satellites andre-orbiting to graveyard orbit for MEO and GEO satellites.

With the help of Creo, the company has also designed InOrbit NOW, a family of end-to-end solutions for the New Space market that includes  launch and deployment services, mission control software, and a set of add-on services.

As we work hard to save the planet and environment, and at the same time sourcing a potential planet for human inhabitance, perhaps we should learn lessons early on and deal with the debris we’ve already made, working with companies, such as D-Orbit, to ensure there is no further space junk.

Remember what we create today, is the legacy for our future generations. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

When Sputnik launched in 1957, it marked the dawn of the space age and, since then, various nations have launched thousands of further satellites and rockets into orbit to see who can lead the race. In spectacular scenes this weekend, Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket was the latest entry into the history book and will forever be remembered as the first time a crewed orbital launch has left the United States since NASA grounded its operations in 2011.

It’s not the first time Musk has been in the headline for his work in space. Previously, the eccentric entrepreneur launched the Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful rocket, with a Tesla sports car safely ensconced in the nosecone.  It circulated the world with David Bowie’s Life on Mars playing on its launch just to make it that little bit more surreal.

The entertainment doesn’t stop there. The arrival of 5G means new satellites will be built from 5G architecture with 5G signals beamed down from space to support the infrastructure on Earth. This will undoubtedly kick-start a new ‘space race’ for satellites, with the consumer promised a seamless wireless experience across the entire globe in return.

These rocket and satellite launches deliver spectacular further steps for man into space and enable far superior telecoms, but they also add to the ever-increasing threat of ‘space debris’ in the solar system.

What is ‘space debris’ and why is it a problem?

Space debris is a term used for defunct human-made objects in space. These nonfunctional objects include discarded satellites, derelict launch vehicle stages, spent rocket stages as well as the fragments from their disintegration, erosion and collisions.

This junk can slam into spacecraft and launching satellites at a combined speed of more than 30,000mph, with the U.S.  Space Surveillance Network using radar to track more than 13,000 items larger than four inches. British astronaut, Major Tim Peake, commented that a 7mm-diameter circular chip was gouged out of the window of the International Space Station by a tiny piece of space debris when he was on-board.

Furthermore, National Geographic reported last year that there are hundreds of thousands of man-made objects zipping around the universe - from dead satellites to errant nuts and bolts - all putting our working satellites at risk.

Answer: End-of-Life Satellite Clearance

With a rise in the volume of space debris, end-of-life decommissioning of satellites has become a concern for its operators. Satellites’ on-board propulsive systems are not optimized for end-of-life manoeuvres, leading to end-of-life operations that are long, complex, and expensive. These operations can also shorten satellite lifetime and cannot be performed at all when a satellite fails. An effective and safe removal of end-of-life satellites would mitigate the space debris problem and this is where D-Orbit, a company based in Como in Italy, can help.

Its product, D3, is an independent, smart motor optimized for decommissioning manoeuvres in space. Installed on satellites before launch, D3 removes them from orbit quickly, safely and directly at end-of-life or in the case of major failure.

D-Orbit chose PTC’s Creo, managed by PTC partner Dedagroup Business Solutions,  as its design tool, giving it the flexibility to adapt quickly to different client requests. D3, which is fully compliant with international space debris regulations, enables satellite operators of constellations to maintain their operational orbits free from uncontrolled satellites and reduce the collision risk at the same time. Depending on the configuration, D3 can perform quick re-entry for LEO satellites andre-orbiting to graveyard orbit for MEO and GEO satellites.

With the help of Creo, the company has also designed InOrbit NOW, a family of end-to-end solutions for the New Space market that includes  launch and deployment services, mission control software, and a set of add-on services.

As we work hard to save the planet and environment, whilst sourcing a potential planet for human inhabitance, perhaps we should learn lessons early on and deal with the debris we’ve already made, working with companies, such as D-Orbit, to ensure there is no further space junk.

Remember what we create today, is the legacy for our future generations. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

 

 

Tags:
  • CAD
  • Creo
  • Aerospace and Defense

About the Author

Jacqui Cook

Jacqui Cook is a Senior Manager in PTC's Corporate Communications department. She has more than two decades experience of working with business journalists, establishing tight working relationships and producing factual content. She is descended from the originators of cricket, the UK national past time and has a strong passion for animals, in particular the British Bulldog.