D4D Design for Demise - MiCRA Study and Webcasting

Space debris that has returned to Earth
17 October 2013

In the frame of the ESA Clean Space Initiative (see link) the CDF was tasked to carry out a MiCRA (Mission Concept and Requirements Assessment – see link) in preparation for the planned industrial Technology Readiness Programme (TRP) activity into Design for Demise techniques. The objective of the MiCRA was to gather and refine ideas around the topic, to finalize the scope of the contract and to consolidate the related Statement of Work. Another outcome of the MiCRA was to create the necessary D4D know-how in a multi-disciplinary ESA team.

Design for Demise (D4D) aims to investigate ways to reduce the uncontrolled re-entry casualty risk to people caused by space debris. D4D is about proposing new spacecraft design concepts and approaches such that less debris survives the re-entry and that debris that does survive poses lower risk. Of course, these design concepts apply equally to spacecraft and launchers. So far, very little is known about the engineering associated with D4D and this process can potentially bring significant advantage to European industry by reducing the need for controlled re-entry of satellites and all the costs associated with that.

D4D Study Logo

A number of experts from selected disciplines identified several design for demise concepts and highlighted many issues requiring analysis at system and subsystem level during future industrial activities.

Some of the major areas that will require more in-depth analysis include novel materials and manufacturing methods, as well as configuration and structural design features, enabling an easier spacecraft break-up during the atmospheric re-entry.

The team during a D4D session

Although the CDF has had the ability to record and store the rich media content of design sessions for some time, another novel feature of this MiCRA was the decision to WebCast each of the sessions live. This enabled organisations interested in bidding for the subsequent industrial contract a better insight into the activity. Those connecting to the webcast were allowed to raise questions via an on-line form and these questions were answered either during the sessions or shortly afterwards.

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