CRITICAL VULNERABILITIES IN THE SPACE DOMAIN: USING NANOSATELLITES AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO TRADITIONAL SATELLITE ARCHITECTURES
Swintek, Philip C.
Swintek, Philip C.
Moore, Scott M.
Blanken, Leo J.
Lan, Wenschel D.
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Today, the U.S. military relies upon space-based technology for a myriad of functions from precision navigation to satellite communication. Satellites greatly enable the modern American military and particularly empower special operations forces across the globe, supporting decentralized and geographically disparate operations. However, the U.S. is highly reliant upon this technology and thus increasingly vulnerable with potential adversaries undoubtedly possessing, or at least cultivating, the ability to attack America's space-based infrastructure. As a safeguard against such vulnerabilities, nanosatellites, cube satellites (CubeSats), and other small satellites are a low-cost and expedient solution to build redundancy and resiliency, offering unique options as an alternative to traditional satellite systems. To support this hypothesis, this thesis provides such an alternative: A Software Assisted VHF Information Overhead Relay-CubeSat (SAVIOR-Cube). SAVIOR-Cube is a software-defined radio (SDR) payload operating as a very high frequency (VHF) relay via a nanosatellite in low Earth orbit. This thesis demonstrates the depth of the problem a payload such as SAVIOR-Cube could solve, the applicability of nanosatellite solutions to U.S. forces today, and the results of extensive testing, culminating with a proof of concept high-altitude balloon flight. Nanosatellites are a viable alternative to traditional space-based infrastructure—a solution to a critical vulnerability.
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