[amsat-bb] Re: Could we raise orbit thru magnetorque?

James C. Mankin n5x at psu.edu
Wed Feb 21 10:15:42 PST 2007

I seem to remember back when they were testing tethered satellites from 
the Shuttle that one of
the possible applications being discussed was that if you could deploy 
enough wire and put the
right current through it that it was possible to change orbits.   I dont 
see why it wouldnt work if
a large loop of wire could be created say between three satellites in a 

Jim Mankin
n5x at psu.edu

Bruce Bostwick wrote:
> That's been my understanding as well.  Magnetorquing by itself can  
> drive rotation but not translation.  Its main benefit is that it  
> saves propellant, weight, and complexity, as well as moving parts and  
> the risk of a hypergolic plumbing assembly exploding and taking out  
> half the spacecraft's systems, by allowing the spacecraft to handle  
> rotation with more reliable torquing coils and get its energy for  
> that from the PV panels.  Changing orbits still requires firing a  
> reaction thruster of some sort.
> On Feb 20, 2007, at 9:47 AM, John Mock KD6PAG wrote:
>>> Argument is:  if when satellite is in the north, a north magnetic  
>>> field is
>>> applied on z plane, will satellite raise orbit ? Same but opposite  
>>> on south.
>>> Considering limited energy available could this raise be  
>>> significant if
>>> applied on all orbits ?.
>> I believe magnetorquing can only change the orientation of a  
>> satellite and
>> not its orbit.  It is certainly used in the process of changing an  
>> orbit,
>> in order to get a thrusting device pointing in a direction where it  
>> will
>> do something useful. But by itself, it can't change an orbit.  It  
>> can help
>> point antennas in the proper direction, etc.
>> 		         -- KD6PAG  (Networking Old-Timer, Satellite QRPer)
> "People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what  
> to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their  
> heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome." -- River Tam,  
> "Serenity"
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