Active removal of large space debris, such as upper stages of elderly launch vehicles or decommissioned satellites, constitutes a technological challenge which is so far well-known and recognized by all the main players of space business, both at institutional and at industrial level, as a required step to achieve significant progress towards a safer and cleaner space environment. To accomplish such objective, a non-collaborative rendez-vous and capture procedure, to be performed by a robotic spacecraft (namely “chaser”), is required.
Ls-Dyna has been adopted in the following areas: study of the maneuvers of proximity between chaser (active spacecraft) and target (non-cooperative object), mechanical interaction between the two objects (exchange of forces, energy, accelerations, contact pressure), the development and optimization of mechanisms to perform the capture, assessment and verification of the dynamic behaviour during the deployment of extensible parts (arms, solar panels, deployable structures). The Simulations with Lsdyna solver follows the correlation with experimental data taken place at the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) where tested in the drop tower after the assembled and prepared for zero-gravity flight. Based of test data we have been calibrated the physical properties of the materials, to study later configurations off-design.