A Review of Impending Small Satellite Formation Flying Missions
Small satellites, like popular nanosatellite platforms called CubeSats, are suitable for formation flying missions because of their modular nature and low cost. This paper presents a review of thirty-nine missions, using multiple small satellites, in various stages of development. These missions are categorized based on their mission type, mission status, number of satellites, leading organization, funding source, and requirement for constellation or formation flying. We conclude that Earth science related missions are the most popular, while most multi-satellite missions only require a constellation. Although six missions aim to demonstrate formation flying capability in space using two to three small satellites, there are currently only two formation flying missions planning to use four or more small satellites.
© 2015 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. The authors would like to thank Dr. Tom Cwik for his guidance and constructive comments. The authors would also like to thank D. Hanley, J. Puig, and H.-B. Yoon for their valuable inputs. This work was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist 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 National Aeronautics and Space Administration.