Information-Driven Systems Engineering Study of a Formation Flying Demonstration Mission using Six CubeSats
Small satellites are suitable for formation flying missions where a large number of spacecraft serve as distributed sensors for applications like synthetic aperture radar, interferometry, etc. A survey of existing or proposed small satellite missions concludes that there is a dearth of formation flying missions using four or more spacecraft that require formation maintenance. This paper presents a systems engineering based design of a formation flying technology demonstration mission that requires precise formation maintenance and reconfigurations and highlights the challenges that need to be overcome for its successful implementation. The goal of this paper is to provide directions for future research and development in spacecraft formation flying technologies.
© 2015 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This work was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist's Space Technology Research Fellowship Program. Government sponsorship is acknowledged. This research was carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the NASA. Additional thanks to Professor Grace Gao for allowing us to use her lab's equipment for GPS testing, and to Dr. Tom Cwik for his guidance and constructive comments.