Attitude Control and Aerodynamic Drag Sail

Votes: 1
Views: 4787

The Attitude Control and Aerodynamic Drag Sail (ACADS) is a gossamer structure intended to be deployed on a nanosatellite once the spacecraft is on orbit.

The sail is deployed using compressed nitrogen that inflate telescoping booms. Once deployed, the sail has a cross-sectional area of ten square meters.

A prototype sail has been constructed and deployed many times at various design reviews and conferences, proving the effectiveness and reliability of the deployment system.

In an orbit of 600 kilometers, a satellite with a mass of fifty kilograms and a volume of 50x50x50 centimeters would take about 25 years to deorbit. With the sail deployed, the satellite's deorbit time would be reduced to less than six months.

The sail is also laced with ten turns of 30 AWG wire. Once current is passed through the wire, magnetic torque will be generated, providing an attitude control system for the satellite.

The usefulness of the ACADS becomes apparent from the amount of debris populating low-Earth orbit. With tens of thousands of pieces of debris, there exists an ever-present threat to manned and unmanned spacecraft.

In light of this, having a system that can rapidly deorbit a satellite at the end of its operational lifetime can be a valuable system to utilized for future satellite missions.


Voting is closed!


  • Name:
    Kevin Schillo
  • Type of entry:
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Kevin's favorite design and analysis tools:
    Matlab, Nautilus, SolidWorks, Pro-E
  • Kevin's hobbies and activities:
    Writing science fiction novels
  • Kevin belongs to these online communities:
    Facebook, Twitter
  • Kevin is inspired by:
    I have always had a profound passion for space exploration, and there is nothing I desire more than helping to develop the technologies that will push the boundaries of human spaceflight and allow civilization to expand beyond the confines of Earth.
  • Software used for this entry:
    Matlab, Debris Assessment Software
  • Patent status: