Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System
ProSEDS, a tether-based propulsion experiment sponsored by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, was designed to demonstrate an electrodynamic tether's ability to generate significant thrust. As one of several partners that contributed to the ProSEDS science, hardware and operations, SDL’s role was to perform a risk assessment of the tether design and the high voltage system, and to recommend changes if necessary. Participation in the ProSEDS program came as a result of SDL’s extensive participation in the Shuttle Electrodynamic Tether System (SETS) flights.
When analysis suggested that several ProSEDS key performance parameters could not be met, NASA decided not to fly the mission. It was expected that particle impacts on the tether would compromise the insulating properties of portion of the tether before mission science goals could be met. In addition, tightening of ISS safety requirements required an alteration of the ProSEDS orbit to such an extent that ProSEDS mission requirements and equipment performance could not be made to satisfy the emerging ISS safety requirements within the constraints of time and budget.