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Proceedings Paper

The power of inexpensive satellite constellations
Author(s): Lars P. Dyrud; Rose La Tour; William H. Swartz; Sreeja Nag; Steven R. Lorentz; Thomas Hilker; Warren J. Wiscombe; Stergios J. Papadakis
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Paper Abstract

Two thematic drivers are motivating the science community towards constellations of small satellites, the revelation that many next generation system science questions are uniquely addressed with sufficient numbers of simultaneous space based measurements, and the realization that space is historically expensive, and in an environment of constrained costs, we must innovate to ―do more with less‖. We present analysis that answers many of the key questions surrounding constellations of scientific satellites, including research that resulted from the GEOScan community based effort originally intended as hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT. We present analysis that answers the question how many satellites does global system science require? Perhaps serendipitously, the analyses show that many of the key science questions independently converge towards similar results, i.e. that approximately 60+ satellites are needed for transformative, as opposed to incremental capability in system science. The current challenge is how to effectively transition products from design to mass production for space based instruments and vehicles. Ideally, the lesson learned from past designs and builds of various space products should pave the way toward a better manufacturing plan that utilizes just a fraction of the prototype‘s cost. Using the commercial products industry implementations of mass customization as an example, we will discuss about the benefits of standardization in design requirements for space instruments and vehicles. For example, the instruments (payloads) are designed to have standardized elements, components, or modules that interchangeably work together within a linkage system. We conclude with a discussion on implementation plans and the new paradigms for community and international cooperation enabled by small satellite constellations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 June 2014
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 9083, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI, 90832A (23 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2053395
Show Author Affiliations
Lars P. Dyrud, Draper Lab. (United States)
Rose La Tour, Draper Lab. (United States)
William H. Swartz, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Sreeja Nag, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
Steven R. Lorentz, L-1 Standards and Technology, Inc. (United States)
Thomas Hilker, Oregon State Univ. (United States)
Warren J. Wiscombe, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Stergios J. Papadakis, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9083:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI
Thomas George; M. Saif Islam; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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