CUBESAT PASS QUALITY ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIVE MODEL
Leone, John J. III
Newman, James H.
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The current ground station infrastructure of the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Mobile CubeSat Command and Control (MC3) Network can sufficiently manage the existing three CubeSats that it has been tasked to monitor and control. However, the projected growth in the quantity of these satellites will produce greater likelihood of conflicting passes, a condition where multiple CubeSats are above the horizon simultaneously with respect to a single ground station and are competing for limited downlink antenna assets. Consequently, as more CubeSats are placed in orbit, the ground stations that communicate with them need to become more efficient and require optimization strategies to make best use of the network. Using the MC3 historical data set for its PropCube satellites, this thesis creates a grading scale that can be used to prioritize which PropCube should have antenna priority based on the expectation of downlinking data and when during the satellite’s pass an operator should expect to capture that data. This value function can be used by an optimization program, such as that being developed in the NPS Small Satellite Laboratory, to maximize the data retrieved from a constellation of satellites. Additionally, the tools developed for analyzing and understanding MC3 PropCube passes can be used to determine value functions for other ground station networks in order to efficiently schedule CubeSat contacts.
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