November 11, 2013
The first of at least three long sessions experimenting with electromagnetic spacecraft control on the International Space Station (ISS) validates both the target technology and the value of keeping researchers on the ground in the loop when astronauts conduct their science.
Engineering faculty and students from the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology worked with ISS flight engineer Mike Hopkins Nov. 4 on a 3-hr. experiment with the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System (Rings) delivered to the station in August. Mounted on two of the ISS's cold-gas Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient (Spheres) minisatellites, the Rings hardware generates electromagnetic fields that in theory can substitute for thrusters to control platforms in orbit.