A new era in Electrodynamic Tethers research
The T-Rex (Tether-Rocket experiment) aiming to demonstrate the operation of an experimental Electrodynamic Tether in upper atmosphere has been launched and operated successfully on board a S-520 sub-orbital rocket on August 31st at 5:00 (JST) from Uchinoura Space Observatory in Japan (official JAXA release at: http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2010/08/20100831_s520_25_j.html ).
The T-Rex is an international project between Europe, USA, Australia and Japan, conceived and directed by Dr. Hironori Fujii (Kanagawa Institute of Technology/Nihon Univ.) and developed by ISAS/JAXA. The launch of S-520 by JAXA is operated by the support of the team of Tokyo Metropolitan Univ., Shizuoka Univ. and Kagawa Univ.
After a flight in nominal conditions and the ejection of the cone after 55 sec, the tethered plasma probe was released and started to operate as expected. The electro-dynamic tape tether was deployed successfully (300m in 2min.) by employing the highly reliable inverse-Origami method (NASA Science News, Huntsville AL (SPX) Jun 12, 2007), and the images (below) were transmitted to the ground station thanks to the on-board Ku-band transmitter.
The rocket reached the maximum altitude of 309 Km after 283 seconds and ejected into South-East sea of Uchinoura. The tether robot (TSR) was also successfully operated.
This experiment, in which emxys participated actively during the definition and design of some components of the power system, represents a milestone in Electrodynamics Tethers technology and an important boost for further developments in this branch of Astronautics.
emxys congratulates all the team and specially its leader, Dr. Fujii, for the success and the results achieved.
Photos showing the deployment of the tether tape in Space, taken by S-520 on board camera
S-520 Sub-Orbital rocket