Smaller satellite operations near geostationary orbit
Erdner, Matthew T.
Racoosin, Charles M.
Welch, William J.
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With the ongoing miniaturization of components, the utility of smaller satellites is increasing. Many believe in the near future that small satellites will be able to perform all functions that larger satellites currently perform today. It has been suggested that these satellites will be less expensive, thus offer a lower risk to the consumer in case they fail before their mission design life. This paper looked at the ability to build and operate smaller satellites with current technology to perform covert Space Control and Space Situational Awareness missions near geostationary orbit. The investigation determined if space qualified Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components and current technology could be used to build covert smaller satellites. The largest satellite was sized to be undetectable from earth based sensors. Subsequent CubeSat sizes were selected to determine how small a satellite could be built with COTS components and current technology to perform the assigned missions. A comparative analysis was then performed to determine how these satellites could be cost effectively launched to orbit. A cost estimate was performed to determine the entire life cycle cost for each satellite size excluding launch and integration segments. Using that information, the best satellite size was determined.
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