Electrodynamic tethers for energy harvesting and propulsion on space platforms

Sven G. Bilén, Jesse K. McTernan, Brian E. Gilchrist, Iverson C. Bell, Nestor R. Voronka, Robert P. Hoyt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

20 Scopus citations


Electrodynamic tethers can be used to generate power onboard spacecraft orbiting the Earth (or any other planetary body with a magnetic field), essentially "harvesting" energy from the orbital energy of the spacecraft. A key benefit of an electrodynamic tether is the high peak power generation capability for a small impact in spacecraft mass and volume. Reciprocally, the same system can be used to provide orbit-raising propulsion, or change of any other orbital parameter if power is applied to the tether. In this work, the research goal is to develop a better understanding of the power generation capabilities of EDT systems on various scales, and to develop system concepts, key elements, and technology roadmaps for their use. This paper reports on preliminary results for large-to-small, nano-, and picosatellite scales. The results show that EDTs are viable devices for providing power to spacecraft and worthy of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2010
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781600869662
StatePublished - 2010
EventAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2010 - Anaheim, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 30 2010Sep 2 2010

Publication series

NameAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2010


OtherAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAnaheim, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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