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Space Debris Removal with Harpoon Assistance: Choice of Parameters and Optimization

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This paper discusses three phases of the space debris removal with harpoon assistance: capture, tether deployment, and towing. The harpoon impact momentum is used to detumble the target. Equations of motion for each phase are given in dimensionless form, which significantly reduces the number of parameters describing the system. The aim of the paper is to propose algorithms for choosing optimal parameters for the capture and tether deployment phases. This optimization provides small amplitudes of the tether and debris oscillations during towing. The numerical simulations of the removal of a spent Ariane 4 upper stage H10 confirm the correctness of the proposed mathematical models and optimization algorithms.