3d visualisation of the experiment

Without optimization we have achived 81.8% of impact energy absorbtion

Detailed test results

Docking Impender was a system developed under ESA Startiger funding scheme. The goal of Startiger is to develop breakthrough technologies by encouraging a project team to work intensively in co-location during a 6-months period. This was carried out in Toruń. Docking Impender assumed a demonstrator of a novel kinetic energy absorber applied to CubeSat mockups tested on a 2D microgravity simulator: an air bearing table.

The demonstration assumed successful docking (latching) and – most of all – experimental proof of dynamical improvement of the vehicle. This was achieved: a demonstration involved absorbing of up to 81,8% of kinetic energy of a CubeSat impacting (docking onto) a 62 kg mass, simulating a larger satellite or an asteroid. The impact event involved minimization of bouncing and stabilization of the CubeSat. Since the project focused on inventing several (10) different Impender mechanism arrangements, the one selected for the final test was optimized in terms of its features (such as stability, shape, re-loading, durability etc.), but was not optimized in terms of performance. Still 81,8% of a non-optimized mechanism is very promising. Also separate test of CubeSat to CubeSat docking were successfully performed.

A dedicated socket was designed. This creates opportunity to use the latching pin and the socket also as media connector for power and data, and potentially fluid media. This can be useful in case of servicing or refuelling missions. Impender module can be also used as a tip of an orbital manipulator. The system is fully reusable and rechargeable. It might include destructible elements and elements for active adaptation to a wide range of events (automated pre-charing).

Further work must be carried out to optimize mostly: mass and dimensional ratios of separate mechanism elements as well as materials and friction properties.