Orbital Winch for High-Strength, Space-Survivable Tethers
- Tuesday, 01 June 2010
An Orbital Winch mechanism enables high-load, multi-line tethers to be deployed and retracted without rotating the spool on which the tether is wound. To minimize damage to the tether and the wound package during retraction or deployment under load, it can incorporate a Tension Management Module that reduces the infeed tension by a factor of 15 through the use of a powered capstan with guide rollers. This design eliminates the need for rotating high-voltage electrical connections in tether systems that use propellantless electro-dynamic propulsion. It can also eliminate the need for rotating optical connections in applications where the tether contains optical fibers.