Vladimir S. Aslanov, Arun K. Misra, Vadim V. Yudintsev
Acta Astronautica, Available online 13 July 2017
Publication year: 2017

Chaotic motion of the tethered towing of debris using a low-thrust tug is considered. Stable and unstable stationary solutions are presented for the in-plane motion of the system in a circular orbit, which depend on the value of the tug’s thrust. The unstable solutions give rise to the chaotic motion of the system in the presence of additional disturbances. The chaotic behavior of the system, caused by the eccentricity of the orbit and out-of-orbital plane roll motion of the tether system, is investigated based on the equations of spatial motion of tethered satellites developed in previous works. It is shown that the chaotic motions of the system depend on the value of the tug’s thrust, so that using the tug with low thrust and starting the active phase of the active debris removal from unsuitable initial conditions for the pitch and roll angles of the tether can lead to chaotic motion of the system.