Research into enabling factors for constellations of small satellites has resulted in the development of a methodology to identify effective deployment strategies. This is a critical factor for these systems due to the use of secondary payload launch and limited propulsive capability. The approach utilises design-space exploration to enable a greater understanding of the trade-offs between different deployment strategies and identification of improved system designs.
The methodology incorporates the effects of atmospheric drag and spacecraft propulsive capabilities, enabling assessment of these factors on constellation deployment. The development of a mission design tool based on the methodology and other research within the group is currently being explored.
Work contributing to the ESA Clean Space Initiative is investigating the destructive re-entry and end-of-life characteristics of satellites. This research involves the scaled aerodynamic testing of complex geometries and flow-fields associated with fragmenting spacecraft.
Spacecraft breakup is being simulated using rapid-prototyped models that incorporate known defects to result in predictable fracture during hypersonic wind tunnel testing. Qualitative and quantitative flow diagnostic techniques will be utilised to study the interaction between the model fragments and the flow-field during and after fracture.