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Designing Spacecraft Constellations for Resilience

Designing Spacecraft Constellations for Resilience

We’d like to congratulate Stuart Burrows on an outstanding presentation at the Australian Defence Science and Technology Research (ADSTAR) Summit on Thursday the 21st of August 2022.

The ADSTAR event was an incredible opportunity to gain awareness of important Australian Defence S&T research currently being undertaken and to network with Defence, academia and industry to forge future partnerships that will help strengthen Australia’s sovereign defence.

Stuart’s presentation was extremely well received and highlighted the incredible work and achievements of our Aerospace and Space Systems Simulation project team.

The abstract for Stuart’s presentation follows below. The full video presentation can be found on the ADSTAR 2022 website for those who have access.

Designing Spacecraft Constellations for Resilience.

The space industry has undergone rapid changes in recent years. Constellations of small satellites operating in low Earth orbit are becoming the norm for many applications, and the future of Defence space capability will be based, at least in part, on these constellation architectures. Constellations of small satellites are generally designed for cost effectiveness and operational efficiency, with life spans that are relatively short compared to larger satellites.

The short life spans of small satellites have two main environmental causes: atmospheric drag due to low altitude, obliging the satellite to counter via on-board propulsion with very limited fuel; and the harsh radiation in space, which damages materials irreparably over time and can cause electronic components to fail. Mitigation of these deleterious effects is essential for securing the resilience of Defence’s space capability, but extremely costly. Moreover, the space environment is not uniform. Altitude inversely affects the amount of atmospheric drag experienced, and also greatly affects the amount of radiation present. In addition, geographic areas may have more or less radiation, such as the South Atlantic Anomaly with its outsize concentrations of energetic particles. These environmental hazards may be addressed and balanced against cost by carefully designing the spacecraft and the orbital parameters of the constellation.

This presentation gives an overview of the spacecraft and constellation design optimisation problem, and introduces the aerospace optimisation system which is being developed by Swordfish Computing, in partnership with Defence Science and Technology Group, to help solve this and related problems.

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