Magnetic Brake II

Mankind’s activities in space keep increasing. Modern satellites and other spacecraft are equipped with a large number of rotating actuators. For braking rotational movement, e.g. when fixing antennas or solar panels in their orientation, conventional friction-based or mechanically interlocking brakes cannot be used due to the danger of cold-welding or debris from abrasion.

The conventional approach applies stepper motors that have intrinsic cogging torque due to magnetic reluctance. This however means that sometimes, the size of the stepper motor is not determined by the required nominal torque but by the required braking torque. As a result, the actuators get unnecessarily big and heavy.

Project MagneticBrake II proposed a novel concept of a magnetic brake that allows to be switched on and off with a simple current impulse and that does not draw power during any stable state – be it the locked or unlocked one.

AAC GmbH from Wiener Neustadt, AT, IIES from Vienna, AT and the Linz Center of Mechatronics GmbH from Linz, AT, have collaborated to develop, design, prototype, and test this novel type of magnetic braking unit. The results have been presented at the ESA International Space Days in Noordwijk, NL in 2022 and will be presented at the project end at the 20th European Space Mechanisms and Tribology Symposium in Warsaw, Poland.