Title: Advantages of small satellite carrier concepts for LEO/GEO inspection and debris removal missions

Authors: David K. Geller; Derick Crocket; Randy Christensen; Adam Shelley

Addresses: Utah State University, 4130 Old Main, Logan, Utah 84322, USA ' Utah State University, 4130 Old Main, Logan, Utah 84322, USA ' Space Dynamics Laboratory, 1695 N. Research Park Way, North Logan, Utah, 84341, USA ' Space Dynamics Laboratory, 1695 N. Research Park Way, North Logan, Utah, 84341, USA

Abstract: This work focuses on two important types of space missions: close-in satellite inspection of LEO/GEO high-value assets to detect and/or resolve anomalies, and LEO/GEO debris disposal missions to reduce space hazards. To demonstrate the efficiency of using reusable SmallSats, two mission architectures are analysed: 1) a SmallSat carrier-based system with an in-space refuelling capability; 2) a traditional carrier-less SmallSat. For each architecture the number of potential SmallSat satellite inspection and debris disposal mission sorties is determined as a function of the required initial launch mass. The analysis shows that reusable SmallSats can efficiently conduct multiple satellite inspection and debris removal sorties. For LEO missions, the carrier-based architecture enables a significantly lower launch mass than the carrier-less system. For GEO missions, the advantages of a carrier-based system are less clear and more mission specific. To accomplish these missions, key enabling SmallSat technologies are identified.

Keywords: satellite inspection; space debris; mission design; trajectory design; small satellites; satellite carriers; debris removal; space missions; space hazards; reusable satellites; in-space refuelling.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2014.060595

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2014 Vol.2 No.2, pp.115 - 134

Received: 22 Jun 2013
Accepted: 26 Sep 2013

Published online: 22 Apr 2014 *

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