Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies

A special issue of Aerospace (ISSN 2226-4310). This special issue belongs to the section "Astronautics & Space Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2024) | Viewed by 10755

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Interests: space engineering; space manipulators
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Computer Science and Engineering, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
Interests: spacecraft system design; on-board data handling; machine learning for space
School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2042, Australia
Interests: satellite-based positioning; navigation and position fixing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Interests: astrodynamics; space navigation; space situational awareness

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Space is now considered as the new frontier. The rapid progress of space technologies has led to new applications of satellites for commercial and scientific missions. Missions such as asteroid mining, human space explorations, on-orbit servicing and many others are under development or have been proposed. Consequently, future spacecraft must have the required systems and technologies that would enable future space missions as well as operate in the harsh environment of space reliably and safely. For example, technologies that can provide astronauts with air, water and food are essential for manned missions and interplanetary colonization, and so need to be investigated and developed. Spaceborne robotic autonomous perception and intervention are required for asteroid mining, as well as on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing. At the same time, these missions are pushing the spacecraft technologies to the next level. Such relevant technologies includes, but are not limited to, propulsion, power, thermal management, radiation protection, communication, and high-performance on-board computing in order to support on-board artificial intelligence and onboard data handling.

This Special Issue invites researchers to submit their original research papers on advanced spacecraft/satellite technologies that would make future missions possible. The topics include but are not limited to:

  • Attitude dynamics and control;
  • Relative pose estimation;
  • Advanced propulsion;
  • Guidance, navigation and orbit control;
  • Life support systems for human space exploration;
  • Thermal management;
  • Radiation protection;
  • Energy harvesting;
  • Artificial intelligence for satellites;
  • Space robotics;
  • Satellite communications;
  • Space structure and assembly;
  • Command and data handling;
  • Space situational awareness.

Dr. Xiaofeng Wu
Dr. Abdul-Halim Jallad
Dr. Yang Yang
Dr. Youngho Eun
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Aerospace is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • radiation protection
  • thermal management
  • guidance, navigation and control
  • space power and propulsion
  • space structure
  • communication
  • life support
  • on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing
  • artificial intelligence

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 2959 KiB  
Article
Proof of Principle of the Lunar Soil Volatile Measuring Instrument on Chang’ e-7: In Situ N Isotopic Analysis of Lunar Soil
by Ye He, Huaiyu He, Ziheng Liu, Fei Su, Jiannan Li, Yanan Zhang, Rongji Li, Xinyu Huang, Xuhang Zhang, Chao Lu, Shengyuan Jiang, Junyue Tang and Ranran Liu
Aerospace 2024, 11(2), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11020114 - 26 Jan 2024
Viewed by 891
Abstract
The nitrogen isotopic compositions of lunar soil have important implications for the sources of lunar volatiles and even the evolution of the moon. At present, the research on the lunar nitrogen isotopic compositions is mainly based on the lunar meteorites and the samples [...] Read more.
The nitrogen isotopic compositions of lunar soil have important implications for the sources of lunar volatiles and even the evolution of the moon. At present, the research on the lunar nitrogen isotopic compositions is mainly based on the lunar meteorites and the samples brought back by the Apollo and Luna missions. However, volatiles adsorbed on the surface of the lunar soil may be lost due to changes in temperature and pressure, as well as vibration and shock effects when the sample is returned. At the same time, in the case of low N content in the sample, since N is the main component of the earth’s atmosphere, it is easily affected by the atmosphere during the analysis process. Therefore, in situ nitrogen isotopic analysis of lunar soil on orbit is necessary to avoid the problems mentioned above and is one of the primary science goals for the Lunar Soil Volatile Measuring instrument on Chang’e-7 spacecraft. After the nitrogen purification procedure, the volatiles in lunar soil that are released through single-step or stepped heating techniques diffuse to the quadrupole mass spectrometer to obtain the N contents and isotopic compositions of the lunar soil. This paper introduces the ground test for N isotopic analysis of lunar soil in orbit according to the Lunar Soil Volatile Measuring Instrument. After long-term repeated measurements, the background and CO-corrected Air-STD 14N/15N ratio is 268.986 ± 4.310 (1SD, n = 35), and the overall reproducibility of measurements is 1.6%. The accuracy of N isotopic compositions is calculated to be better than 5%, which can distinguish different sources of N components in lunar soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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17 pages, 7775 KiB  
Article
Effectiveness of Critical-Strain-Based Methodology Considering Elastic Mode Vibration of Mechanical Housing of Electronics
by Jae-Hyeon Park, Seong-Keun Jeong and Hyun-Ung Oh
Aerospace 2023, 10(11), 974; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10110974 - 20 Nov 2023
Viewed by 966
Abstract
A critical-strain-based methodology was proposed to overcome the theoretical limitations of Steinberg’s method, and its effectiveness was experimentally verified through fatigue tests of ball grid arrays, column grid arrays, and lead-type specimens on printed circuit boards (PCBs) with various boundary conditions. These verifications [...] Read more.
A critical-strain-based methodology was proposed to overcome the theoretical limitations of Steinberg’s method, and its effectiveness was experimentally verified through fatigue tests of ball grid arrays, column grid arrays, and lead-type specimens on printed circuit boards (PCBs) with various boundary conditions. These verifications were performed only on PCB units with a single electronic package mounted. However, in actual industrial fields, electronics with various types of electronic packages mounted comprehensively are mainly applied to electronics combined in a mechanical housing structure. Therefore, the verification of the corresponding methodology for the above actual conditions is essential. This study aimed to validate the theoretical feasibility of the design technique under the condition that the elastic mode vibration of a mechanical housing structure acts complexly on PCBs. The proposed methodology was validated analytically and experimentally through a vibration test on a comprehensive PCB specimen with various types of electronic packages mounted on electronic mechanical housing structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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23 pages, 4454 KiB  
Article
A Lunar-Orbiting Satellite Constellation for Wireless Energy Supply
by Francesco Lopez, Anna Mauro, Stefano Mauro, Giuseppe Monteleone, Domenico Edoardo Sfasciamuro and Andrea Villa
Aerospace 2023, 10(11), 919; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10110919 - 28 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1142
Abstract
The goal of this research is to define a lunar-orbiting system that provides power to the lunar surface through wireless power transmission. To meet the power demand of a lunar base, a constellation of satellites placed in stable orbits is used. Each satellite [...] Read more.
The goal of this research is to define a lunar-orbiting system that provides power to the lunar surface through wireless power transmission. To meet the power demand of a lunar base, a constellation of satellites placed in stable orbits is used. Each satellite of this constellation consists of solar arrays and batteries that supply a power transmission system. This system is composed of a laser that transmits power to receivers on the lunar surface. The receivers are photonic power converters, photovoltaic cells optimized for the laser’s monochromatic light. The outputs of this work will cover the architecture of the system by studying different orbits, specifically analyzing some subsystems such as the laser, the battery pack and the receiver placed on the lunar ground. The study is conducted considering two different energy demands and thus two different receivers location: first, at the strategic location of the Artemis missions’ landing site, the Shackleton Crater near the lunar south pole; second, on the lunar equator, in anticipation of future and new explorations. The goal is to evaluate the possible configurations to satisfy the power required for a lunar base, estimated at approximately 100 kW. To do this, several cases were analyzed: three different orbits, one polar, one frozen and one equatorial (Earth–Moon distant retrograde orbit) with different numbers of satellites and different angles of the receiver’s cone of transmission. The main objective of this paper is to perform a comprehensive feasibility study of the aforementioned system, with specific emphasis placed on selected subsystems. While thermal control, laser targeting, and attitude control subsystems are briefly introduced and discussed, further investigation is required to delve deeper into these areas and gain a more comprehensive understanding of their implementation and performance within the system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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22 pages, 8938 KiB  
Article
Conceptual Design of Hybrid Aerial Vehicle for Venus Exploration
by Jesus Rosales, Addison Miller, Edgar Nunez, Andreas Gross and Nancy Chanover
Aerospace 2023, 10(6), 534; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10060534 - 03 Jun 2023
Viewed by 985
Abstract
The conceptual design of a hybrid aerial vehicle for the exploration of the upper Venus atmosphere is presented. The vehicle will float like a balloon and harvest solar energy which is stored in batteries. The neutral buoyancy reduces the energy consumption and makes [...] Read more.
The conceptual design of a hybrid aerial vehicle for the exploration of the upper Venus atmosphere is presented. The vehicle will float like a balloon and harvest solar energy which is stored in batteries. The neutral buoyancy reduces the energy consumption and makes the vehicle robust and durable. Energy stored in the batteries can be used for powered flight with good horizontal and vertical mobility to explore aspects of the atmosphere. The vehicle is intended to operate near 55.3 km altitude and to explore the cloud layer of the planet. The vehicle takes its inspiration from the Stingray inflatable wing by Prospective Concepts. Based on a trade study, the wing span was set to 25 m. Equations are developed for the altitude, gas and skin temperature, and skin stress during neutrally buoyant flight. To keep the equations in a simplified analytical form, the complex compartmentalized gas pockets of the vehicle are lumped into a single gas sphere. The equations take into account the volumetric expansion of the structure and the requirement that the differential pressure needs to be large enough to allow for brief periods of powered flight without significant structural deformation. An aerodynamic analysis provides the lift and drag coefficient curves and indicates that the vehicle is pitch-stable. A powered flight analysis shows that an airspeed of 30 m/s can be maintained for 31 min at 55 km and 69 min at 69 km altitude. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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22 pages, 14479 KiB  
Article
Short-Arc Horizon-Based Optical Navigation by Total Least-Squares Estimation
by Huajian Deng, Hao Wang, Yang Liu and Zhonghe Jin
Aerospace 2023, 10(4), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10040371 - 13 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1305
Abstract
Horizon-based optical navigation (OPNAV) is an attractive solution for deep space exploration missions, with strong autonomy and high accuracy. In some scenarios, especially those with large variations in spacecraft distance from celestial bodies, the visible horizon arc could be very short. In this [...] Read more.
Horizon-based optical navigation (OPNAV) is an attractive solution for deep space exploration missions, with strong autonomy and high accuracy. In some scenarios, especially those with large variations in spacecraft distance from celestial bodies, the visible horizon arc could be very short. In this case, the traditional Christian–Robinson algorithm with least-squares (LS) estimation is inappropriate and would introduce a large mean residual that can be even larger than the standard deviation (STD). To solve this problem, a simplified measurement covariance model was proposed by analyzing the propagation of measurement errors. Then, an unbiased solution with the element-wise total least-squares (EW-TLS) algorithm was developed in which the measurement equation and the covariance of each measurement are fully considered. To further simplify this problem, an approximate generalized total least-squares algorithm (AG-TLS) was then proposed, which achieves a non-iterative solution by using approximate measurement covariances. The covariance analysis and numerical simulations show that the proposed algorithms have impressive advantages in the short-arc horizon scenario, for the mean residuals are always close to zero. Compared with the EW-TLS algorithm, the AG-TLS algorithm trades a negligible accuracy loss for a huge reduction in execution time and achieves a computing speed comparable to the traditional algorithm. Furthermore, a simulated navigation scenario reveals that a short-arc horizon can provide reliable position estimates for planetary exploration missions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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16 pages, 13112 KiB  
Article
Design of Large-Scale Space Lattice Structure with Near-Zero Thermal Expansion Metamaterials
by Bin Yu, Zhao Xu, Ruinan Mu, Anping Wang and Haifeng Zhao
Aerospace 2023, 10(3), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10030294 - 16 Mar 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1927
Abstract
Thermal expansion is inevitable for space structures under the alternating temperature of outer space around the earth. This may lead to the thermal stress and deformation due to the mismatch of the coefficient of thermal expansion. Near-zero thermal expansion (Near-ZTE) is a vitally [...] Read more.
Thermal expansion is inevitable for space structures under the alternating temperature of outer space around the earth. This may lead to the thermal stress and deformation due to the mismatch of the coefficient of thermal expansion. Near-zero thermal expansion (Near-ZTE) is a vitally essential demand for large-scale space telescopes or antennas to preserve their spatial precision and resolution. Recently, mechanical metamaterials with superior and tailorable properties have attracted significant interest with regard to developing negative materials or ultra-property materials. In this paper, the near-ZTE space structure architected by a dual-hourglass bi-material lattice is achieved by the structural optimization method with the gradient-based algorithm. First, an hourglass lattice with adjustable structural parameters is optimized to seek the design of effective negative thermal expansion (NTE) in the thickness direction. Then, two building blocks with both NTE and legacy positive thermal expansion (PTE) are combined as a dual-layered lattice to obtain the near-ZTE. Finally, a structure with near-ZTE of about ~10−9 m/(m·K) is obtained. Furthermore, the various lattice configurations, such as the hexagonal pyramid and triangle pyramid, are investigated in detail. Finally, the natural frequencies of two near-ZTE lattices are calculated by the modal analysis method, and the stiffness is discussed for the optimal solution of space applications. This work demonstrates that the near-ZTE structure can be achieved by utilizing the negative metamaterial and structural optimization method. It provides a novel solution to design the large-scale space structures with the near-zero thermal induced deformation, and may be constructed and assembled by the on-orbit fabrication technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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Review

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22 pages, 11310 KiB  
Review
A Study on the Design and Implementation Technologies of EVA at the China Space Station
by Xuedong Li, Yuan Xie, Yumo Tian and Fengjiang An
Aerospace 2024, 11(4), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11040264 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 445
Abstract
Extravehicular activity (EVA) is a key point and a difficult point for manned spaceflight tasks, as well as an inevitable trend in the development of the manned spaceflight industry. Equipment maintenance, load installation, and extravehicular routing inspection via EVA on the track are [...] Read more.
Extravehicular activity (EVA) is a key point and a difficult point for manned spaceflight tasks, as well as an inevitable trend in the development of the manned spaceflight industry. Equipment maintenance, load installation, and extravehicular routing inspection via EVA on the track are necessary to guarantee the safety and reliability of the long-term in-orbit operation of the China Space Station. In this paper, a comprehensive analysis was conducted on the features of multiple tasks, diverse working modes, and strong systematic coupling during the EVA of the China Space Station (CSS). On this basis, the design, implementation technologies’ development, and in-orbit performance evaluation during EVA were expounded. In the space station system, an extravehicular reliability verification and evaluation system suitable for the requirement for EVA under the conditions of China’s multi-mission, multi-module combination, and repairable spacecraft was constructed. Finally, the in-orbit EVA implementation of the China Space Station since the launch of the core module to the present was summarized, and the subsequent application of the extravehicular technologies in manned lunar landing projects and optical modules was anticipated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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24 pages, 3091 KiB  
Review
A Review of Mechanical Fine-Pointing Actuators for Free-Space Optical Communication
by Martynas Milaševičius and Laurynas Mačiulis
Aerospace 2024, 11(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11010005 - 20 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1373
Abstract
This paper presents a state-of-the-art overview of fine beam steering mechanisms for free-space optical communication on satellites. Precise beam pointing is a critical task for the successful operation of free-space optical communication systems. Based on past research and ongoing projects, the use of [...] Read more.
This paper presents a state-of-the-art overview of fine beam steering mechanisms for free-space optical communication on satellites. Precise beam pointing is a critical task for the successful operation of free-space optical communication systems. Based on past research and ongoing projects, the use of fast steering mirrors (FSMs) is still the most popular solution for free-space optical communication applications. Although a variety of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) FSM solutions exist, there is limited publicly available data on these solutions in the space environment. Three main actuation principles are considered (electro-static force actuated, magnetic force actuated, piezo-effect actuated) and reviewed using available data from past space missions. The article describes the most important criteria in the choice of a fine beam steering solution for free-space optical communication in space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Spacecraft/Satellite Technologies)
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