Dragsails

Space is getting crowded. As more satellites are launched into low Earth orbit, the probability of collision increases. To mitigate this risk, it is necessary for space vehicles to deorbit upon end-of-mission. In many cases, dragsails provide the most cost-effective solution to this problem.

The Situation

The Solution

Why Use Spinnaker DragSails?

  • Earth at Night
  • FCC Licensing

    The Communications Act requires a license for any commercial communications transmitted via satellite to, from and within the United States. All satellites must deorbit within 25 years after end-of-mission to qualify for this license.

    Streamlined FCC Licensing
    By deorbiting within 6 years, starting at launch, vehicles of 180 kg or less can qualify for streamlined FCC licensing. This process has a savings of over $400K per satellite on application fees, and a shorter review timeline.

  • Earth at Night
  • DragSail Targeted Re-Entry
  • Passive Deorbit

    Once deployed, Spinnaker dragsails are entirely passive, and accelerate deorbit without active control. Each unit is equipped with a power source and an adjustable timer. Dragsail deployment can occur autonomously at end-of-mission, or upon command from ground controllers.

  • DragSail Targeted Re-Entry
  • Targeted Re-Entry

    Uncertainty on the time of reentry often spans multiple orbits, which results in satellite burnup not being constrained to a specific geographic region. For satellites in the deorbit phase and approaching reentry, dragsail deployment can be used to initiate atmospheric entry and constrain the entry corridor. By deploying the dragsail at low orbital altitudes, the step increase in surface area provides a drag force that can induce reentry within a fraction of an orbit period.

  • DragSail Targeted Re-Entry

Performance Curves

Plan Your Deorbit

Use our deorbit duration calculator to estimate how long it will take for your space vehicle to deorbit and see if you are likely to qualify for FCC licensing.