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NASA Funds Aerospace Corporation for Superlight Debris Removing MiniSats

By Caleb Henry | June 9, 2016
      Brane Craft

      An artist’s conception of Brane Craft about to capture a piece of space debris. Photo: Joseph Hidalgo

      [Via Satellite 06-009-2016] NASA has awarded The Aerospace Corporation a grant to investigate the possibility of developing an extremely thin spacecraft that would wrap around debris and remove it from Earth’s orbit. The concept, called Brane Craft, is a 1-square meter spacecraft that is less than half the thickness of a human hair. The Brane Craft would only weigh about 50 grams, significantly less than even a standard CubeSat weight of about 1 kg. The 30-micron-thick spacecraft would have a very high thrust-to-weight ratio, and would be capable of travelling long distances, which opens up other possibilities beyond just the removal of space debris.

      “The Brane Craft concept is based on the one-dimensional compression of a complete spacecraft and upper stage into an essentially two-dimensional object in order to maximize power-to-weight and aperture-to-weight ratios,” said Siegfried Janson, Aerospace Corporation’s senior scientist of the microsatellite systems department and the lead investigator on the project.