Robotic Space Tugs

Most cargo will be moved in space by simply pushing it into a desired trajectory and then waiting for it to arrive at the destination. The trajectory will vary according to both the start and end point and the amount of time we are willing to wait for the cargo to arrive. If we are willing to wait for a longer period of time, the trajectory can be optimized for the efficient (lower) use of power.

At the start point, energy will need to be expended to push the cargo package into the delivery trajectory, and at the end point, energy will need to be expended to “catch”, or slow down the cargo package. In both cases, small vehicles that are mostly impulse thruster may be used to apply the needed energy.

These “space tugs” will mostly be robotic and under autonomous software control. They will need remote control override capability when necessary. They will need to have a versatile ability to grapple onto a variety of shapes and sizes of cargo packages. They will also need a similar versatility in terms of directing their thrust in various directions for fine maneuvering. A spider leg assembly with pods on the end of each leg that can be used for either grappling or thrusting would be useful.

Some cargo packages can be thrown into a space bound trajectory using linear electromagnetic accelerators and others may simply be released from space elevators at a point above the geo-synchronous level, where they will be slung out into a trajectory by the centrifugal force of inertia.

Comments are closed.