Satellite on-orbit refueling: a cost effectiveness analysis
Hibbard, Rustie L.
Boger, Dan C.
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With the ever-shrinking military budget constraints facing military and civilian contractors, the ability to extend the operational life of any system for minimal cost compared to a replacement is desirable. This fact has never been more true than in today's space industry. This thesis addresses the possibility of extending satellite life through the use of on-orbit refueling. Through compilation and analysis of satellite operational life span data, it is shown that maneuvering fuel depletion has a significant impact on satellite operations in geosynchronous orbit. If these satellites could be refueled economically this would prove not only cost effective but also improve satellite tactical employment for space support to the warfighter. Through the manipulation of satellite data, launch/design cost, on-orbit refueling vehicle design/construction costs and on-orbit operational requirements, it can be shown that on-orbit refueling can be done cost effectively. Single versus multiple satellite refueling operations were evaluated to determine the concept's viability.
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