Federated satellite systems: A case study on sustain ability enhancement of space exploration systems architectures

Alessandro Golkar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Manned and unmanned space exploration programs are facing times of uncertainty due to political and financial constraints - making future programmatics a challenging endeavor and eventually hindering humankind's ability to explore space beyond Low Earth Orbit. Traditionally, exploration programs have not fully exploited all possible synergies with other space endeavors, such as with Earth Observation, Navigation, Telecommunications missions and so forth. Nevertheless, a significant potential for hedging uncertainty lies in synergies that can be created among space assets, by sharing resources with other programs, and creating potential sources of profit to enhance sustainability of science and exploration focused space missions. This paper describes an assessment methodology to analyze program synergies from a technical and financial standpoint, under the paradigm of Federated Satellite Systems (FSS). In particular, the framework integrates the study of technical feasibility, market assessment, and business case proposition validation of FSS terminals mounted as payloads on hosting spacecraft. FSS is a novel paradigm in space systems architecture and spacecraft design, that consists in allowing spacecraft to share in-orbit resources in an opportunistic fashion. Examples of in-orbit resources include processing power, link capacity, and data storage. Commercial implementations of the FSS concept are designed to create in-orbit markets of space resource commodities, and to enhance sustainability, cost-effectiveness, robustness, and reliability of participating missions. The proposed methodology identifies and ranks potential FSS customers for a given supplier, while assessing the corresponding business case from customer and supplier sides. As a result, the proposed method ensures that the adoption of FSS technology is a win-win proposition for both suppliers and customers. The framework is applied to the assessment of feasibility of hosting FSS payloads on the International Space Station (ISS). The paper shows how a manned exploration program such as the ISS can benefit from the FSS paradigm by participating to federated infrastructures as a supplier of in-space resources. Several market opportunities are found to be accessible from the ISS, in particular with Earth Observation and Telecommunications assets operating in Low Earth Orbit and in particular in Sun Synchronous Orbit. The paper closes with recommendations for future research in federated concepts development, outlining a roadmap for potential implementation of Federated Satellite Systems in future programs. Copyright

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, IAC 2013
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781629939094
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, IAC 2013 - Beijing, China
Duration: 23 Sep 201327 Sep 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
ISSN (Print)0074-1795


Conference64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, IAC 2013


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