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- The strategy for accomplishing civilian exploration goals and objectives is in the process of a fundamental shift towards a potential new approach called Flexible Path. This paper suggests that a government-industry or public-private partnership in the commercial development of low Earth orbit to geostationary orbit (LEO-to-GEO (LTG)) space, following or in parallel with the commercialization of Earth-to-LEO and International Space Station (ISS) operations, could serve as a necessary, logical step that can be incorporated into the flexible path approach. A LTG satellite-servicing infrastructure and architecture concept is discussed within this new strategic context. The concept consists of a space harbor that serves as a transport facility for a fleet of specialized, fully- or semi-autonomous robotic servicing spacecraft. The baseline, conceptual system architecture is composed of a space harbor equipped with specialized servicer spacecraft; a satellite command, communication, and control system; a parts station; a fuel station or depot; and a fuel/parts replenishment transport. The commercial servicer fleet would consist of several types of spacecraft, each designed with specialized robotic manipulation subsystems to provide services such as refueling, upgrade, repair, inspection, relocation, and removal. The space harbor is conceptualized as an ISS-type, octagonal truss structure equipped with radiation tolerant subsystems. This space harbor would be primarily capable of serving as an operational platform for various commercially owned and operated servicer spacecraft positioned and docked symmetrically on four of the eight sides. Several aspects of this concept are discussed, such as: system-level feasibility in terms of ISS-truss-type infrastructure and subsystems emplacement and maintenance between LEO and GEO; infrastructure components assembly in LEO, derived from ISS assembly experience, and transfer to various higher orbital locations; the evolving Earth-to-orbit (ETO) capability to deliver humans and cargo to LEO for assembly purposes; system architectural definition, optimal orbital parameters, mass estimations, delta velocity ( V) estimations, power and propulsion options, and assessments of various critical technologies. Large-scale, robotic, LTG satellite servicing is considered as an essential economic pre-condition and next parallel or sequential step on the road toward exploration beyond LEO. Such a step might produce the necessary pre-requisite economic value that can be used by future decision makers to justify further investment in exploration beyond LEO.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20100040424.
AIAA Paper 2010-8897.
Space 2010 Conference and Exposition; 30 Aug. - 2 Sep. 2010; Anaheim, CA; United States.
- Copyright, Distribution as joint owner in the copyright.
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