With funding from an Air Force SBIR, MMA developed and successfully demonstrated a system to remove satellites from orbit — the dragNET De-orbit System. dragNET can be added to an existing spacecraft late in the integration stage and is easily scalable to various classes of vehicles.
The dragNET de-orbit system consists of compactly stowed, thin membranes that release using a single heater-powered actuator and stow in a box the size of a shoebox. Deployment is powered by releasing stored spring energy acting through articulating booms, and once tensioned, the 14 square-meter membranes create the necessary resistance to passively deorbit the spacecraft or launch vehicle. Although it only weighs about six pounds, the system can bring down a 181 kg, ESPA-class spacecraft from altitudes of about 850 km.