Space: What Now? Blog
TEMPOł Design Reference Version
About Tom Hill
The Book
Favorite Links
Space: Read Now
Other Topics
Contact Me

Design for TEMPO3 soon after winning the Mars Project Challenge

Note:  This description is based on the proposed design, combined with some new information based on other tether-mission lessons learned and brainstorming that took place on the last day of the Mars Society conference.  The design will evolve as the technical team forms.


The TEMPO3 mission is designed to demonstrate the generation of artificial gravity using a CubeSat satellite.  A tether will connect two parts of the satellite, and cold-gas jets will fire, imparting a spin.  Telemetered data will be beamed to Amateur Satellite (AMSAT) operators around the world, and will include, at a minimum, an identifier for the satellite and the measured gravity within the spacecraft.


The proposed budget is $500k:  $250k for assembling and launching the satellite, $150k for a chartered Zero-G flight to test primary assumptions in the mission, and $100k for outreach and other needs.


Referring to the accompanying diagram, the satellite is divided into two parts.  The small part on the left is inactive, and serves to hold the tether before deployment and as a counterweight after spin-up.  The larger part on the right is active, and contains the power systems, electronics, transmitters, and the thruster.  Once again, the details of this design will be refined over time.


For flight readiness, the CO2 cartridge is screwed in to the tank connection.  Then the two parts of the spacecraft are connected with a heat-sensitive ribbon, compressing the springs between them.  The tether is completely coiled within the spool.


The flight profile, as currently envisioned includes:

  1. Separation from the carrier spacecraft and the CubeSat standard P-POD.
  2. A timer waits the required time before deploying and transmitting.
  3. Necessary deployments take place (antenna, etc)
  4. The timing of the following will be determined through analysis
    1. Current flows through the magnetic coil, producing a torque to make the spacecraft align with Earth's magnetic field.  The alignment of the coil is meant to prevent a spin around the X or Y axis, which would make the thruster firing less efficient
    2. Current flows through the wire in the wax plug holding pressure within the CO2 tank.  The plug breaks free, allowing the CO2 inside to release in one thrust.  The structure spins up.
    3. Current flows through a 'hot wire' resting against the heat-sensitive ribbon connecting the two halves of the spacecraft.  Eventually, the ribbon melts through, and the portions separate.
    4. The magnetic coil is turned of at some point during this sequence.
  5. At this point, the spacecraft is spinning and broadcasting its generated gravity.
  6. If possible, another thrust action will be added to demonstrate doing a delta-v while spinning with only one active mass.  This experiment may need to be deferred to a later demonstration mission.

The Updated Past, Present and Possible Futures of Space Activity