Satellites in low Earth orbit are required to deorbit within 25 years of end of mission. Unlike propulsive deorbit approaches that require an active host satellite, the passive deorbit approach offered by dragsails does not require a functional host, and dragsails can offer mass savings for deorbit relative to chemical propulsion.
The Vestigo Aerospace product line of dragsail systems provides deorbit capability for host satellites ranging from CubeSats to 400 kg smallsats. The square pyramid design for the Vestigo dragsails provides passive aerodynamic stability about the maximum drag orientation to improve deorbit performance.
Dragsails can also be applied to achieve semi-controlled reentry capability. The change in ballistic coefficient provided by sail deployment can be used as a control parameter to initiate reentry from a very low orbit, thereby reducing the uncertainty in the reentry corridor and the surface impact footprint. The ability to control the reentry corridor to within a fraction of an orbit reduces the impact of satellite reentry on the air traffic control system, and can be used to constrain the probability of debris impact in populated areas.