The population of debris in Earth orbit has exponential growth due to cascaded collisions between orbiting debris. It is critical that high-risk pieces of debris are actively removed to limit the natural growth of the space debris population. A popular strategy to capture space debris is with tethered nets. Detumbling the debris after capture represents one of the outstanding challenges associated with tethered capture of debris.
This thesis presents a new tether configuration that passively enhances the detumbling ability of the tethered net system, and compares it to the presently-accepted tether configuration. A new laboratory facility was developed to allow for an experimental comparison. Both simulation and experimental results agree that the novel tether configuration outperforms the presently-accepted configuration at detumbling debris. The experimental results are the first, to the best of the author's knowledge, to demonstrate the detumbling of debris using tethers.