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Concept for a Distributed, Modular, In-space Robotically Assembled, RF Communication Payload in GEO

Backus, Spencer and Walsh, William and Setterfield, Timothy P. and Wylie, Brittany and St. Hilaire, Jeffrey and Simon, Brendan Chamberlain and Mukherjee, Rudranarayan (2020) Concept for a Distributed, Modular, In-space Robotically Assembled, RF Communication Payload in GEO. In: 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference. IEEE , Piscataway, NJ, pp. 1-17. ISBN 9781728127347.

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In this paper, we discuss a concept for a Radio Frequency (RF) Ka band communications payload that is robotically assembled and serviced in space using a servicing vehicle such as the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) vehicle being developed by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Our work focuses on how to modularize a representative Ka band communications payload into discrete modules that are hosted on a persistent platform. In our concept, each module consists of a primary aperture and the associated RF and electronics required to serve a particular coverage area or type. These modules are notionally packaged in a form factor capable of launching as a secondary payload via an EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) ring or a Payload Orbital Delivery System (PODS) module. The overall payload consists of an earth coverage module, regional coverage modules, high gain regional coverage modules, and a host interface unit (HIU). We discuss the notional capabilities and requirements of each module. We present two different architecture concepts corresponding to two different persistent platform concepts. In one concept, the persistent platform is made up of small, independent spacecraft that are connected together with structural members with communication channels. The payload modules are hosted on the individual spacecraft. In the second approach, the platform consists of a large central spacecraft with a structural truss that has power, communication and thermal loops. The payload modules are hosted on the truss through standard interfaces. We present aspects of the mission concept on how the payload may be modularized, launched (as secondary launch elements), acquired by the RSGS vehicle in space and assembled on to the persistent platform. We discuss the robotics aspects of assembly and servicing of the payload modules. A key aspect of this concept is the serviceability of the payload. Central to the modular and discrete payload design is an intent to refurbish the payload incrementally as technology evolves or the components fail. Existing geosynchronous communication satellites are designed and built as monolithic spacecraft which makes any servicing beyond refueling fairly complicated. This makes it hard to take advantage of the post launch evolution in technology, particularly in the electronics elements. Our concept is aimed at modularizing the payload such that the modules, particularly the electronics elements, can be easily serviced using the RSGS vehicle. Our concept attempts to take advantage of the long service life of high reliability system components in the core satellite bus while allowing rapid expansion and upgrading of the communications payload through the addition and replacement of individual payload modules.

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Additional Information:© 2020 IEEE. The research described in this publication was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and partial funding from DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) through an agreement with NASA. The views, opinions, and/or findings expressed are those of the author(s) and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved, California Institute of Technology. U.S. Government sponsorship acknowledged.
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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)UNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200828-145324391
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Official Citation:S. Backus et al., "Concept for a Distributed, Modular, In-space Robotically Assembled, RF Communication Payload in GEO," 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 2020, pp. 1-17, doi: 10.1109/AERO47225.2020.9172716
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105150
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Aug 2020 22:04
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:40

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