Архив метки: satellites

The future of satellite systems takes its share

Three years ago, Professor Alessandro Golkar took part as a Skoltech Faculty member, in the Skoltech-MIT faculty development program. He proposed to MIT Professor Olivier de Weck to evaluate the viability of federated and fractionated satellite systems, from a commercial and technological points of view. They launched a workshop to discuss this new and bold idea. 10 people took part in that first workshop. Recently, in his hometown Rome, Italy, Golkar saw how this idea is gaining momentum, as a community of about 100 people took part in the fourth workshop, with participation of key players in the space field.

Professor Alessandro Golkar (in the middle),during the fourth Federated and Fractionated Satellite Systems workshop in Rome.

Professor Alessandro Golkar (in the middle),during the fourth Federated and Fractionated Satellite Systems workshop in Rome.

On October 11-12, the fourth Federated and Fractionated Satellite Systems (FSS) workshop took place at Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, in partnership with Skoltech, MIT and Cornell University. Naturally, Professor Alessandro Golkar, now Interim Director of Skoltech Space Center, was one of the organizers. We asked him to tell us about the novel concept of federated satellite systems, and the recent workshop.

“Today, some satellites are used very inefficiently – most of the time they are idle, such as the case of some telecommunication systems”, explains Professor Golkar, “Countries spend on their development a lot of money, but does not employ the full potential of the systems. Our research is investigating the technical viability and opportunities opened by the sharing of satellite resources in opportunistic networks.”

A lot is talked today about “sharing economy”. eBay, Uber, and Airbnb are famous examples, representing different aspects of sharing economy. Can the same be done with satellites? At first, the idea seemed utopian, and now the main players in the commercial space arena consider this direction as a possible way to increase efficiency of their satellites. “This idea of federated satellites, which was born by a faculty member at Skoltech,” says Golkar, “is now seriously talked about by industry and space agencies people. The result of our research is now getting defused in the space community, beyond the Skoltech and MIT communities”.

Golkar describes how after the first workshop, he and Professor de Weck, decided to hold it annually. “Over the years we have been adding partners”, he says, “we started as MIT and Skoltech, then Cornell University joined, and after that Sapienza University joined. We are building a network of interested universities, and in the future we will probably include some companies as partners”.

“We discussed how this idea relates to the recent trend of mega-constellations that occurs in the market as we speak, for example OneWeb,” Golkar elaborates on the current workshop, “We always try to have high-level people coming to deliver their speeches. In the workshop we had the presentation of everybody in the value chain that concerns us. We had satellite integrators, presentations from Airbus, Lockheed Martin, from space agencies like ESA – all relevant players, including companies and organizations involved in service development, the so-called “downstream sector”.”

“The result of the workshop”, he states, “is that we all identify that there are policy and technical issues, but the idea is not impossible, it’s actually very feasible. We are slowly solving the problems and the technical challenges that we need to solve. This is something futuristic. I think it is the future of space systems in a way. It’s a matter of time, and we need to consider the fact that the space industry is quite conservative, so changes don’t happen very rapidly.

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“We are laying the conceptual foundation for it, and I’m pretty sure this is going to happen. It depends on the willingness of the different space players to take the additional risk. This is going to be more realistic as soon as more small players will want to have access to space but will not be able to afford it, so there would be a demand for federated services, and also as soon as the economic constraints become more and more stringent and competition become more and more important. Then the suppliers will be incentivized to participate in such an idea.

“Is this going to happen spontaneously? No. in order to make this happen, and get the snowball effect, we need some strong government investment into this technology, and more people will join later on a commercial basis”.

As the issue attracts more attention from key players’ side, and while interest and attendance get bigger, it seems that the snowball has already started to roll. In the meantime, Golkar’s group of researchers at Skoltech is working on both theoretical and applied aspects of the idea in order to make it commercially viable. The group is finishing its first prototype of a laser terminal suited for federated operations, which will be used to connect small satellites in low Earth orbit. The goal is to run the created laser communication technology during a test flight in 2018, and then release it to the market. For them, the sky is not a limit. It is an opportunity.

2 guest lectures: Making Space for Everyone + Re-Architecting Space Systems: Infrastructure Changes Everything

1U CubeSat ESTCube-1, developed mainly by the students from the University of Tartu, carries out a tether deployment experiment on the low Earth orbit. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

1U CubeSat ESTCube-1, developed mainly by the students from the University of Tartu, carries out a tether deployment experiment on the low Earth orbit. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

For those who are interested in the rewarding challenges offered by space systems engineering and the need to popularize these highly complex technologies and make them accessible, we invite you to back-to-back guest lectures by Dr. Rick Fleeter (Brown University and La Sapienza, Rome). “Only with infrastructure can we put space in reach of everyone,” Dr. Fleeter claims.

1. The Long and Winding Road: Making space for Everyone

2. Re-Architecting Space Systems: Infrastructure Changes Everything

When: Oct 20, 9 am – 12 pm

Where: Hypercube, 3rd floor, big classroom

For more details and info please contact: Y.Kraskovskaya@skoltech.ru

 

Abstracts:

1. The long and winding road: making space for everyone

 I founded AeroAstro 26 years ago, having begun working on small amateur satellites in the ’70s, to build satellites in a different way, a more efficient way.  The technologies enabling low cost space or “Microspace” take advantage of scaling to smaller size, mass, dimension and complexity as is true of every engineered product. Still not only is Microspace not widely understood nor accepted but beyond its engineering challenges lies another greater obstacle, the mission mindset, our agenda in space.

Through executive level discussion of the system engineering of the mission, it’s architecture and subsystems I will illustrate the contrasts between conventional and low cost approaches to space.  The obstacles to making the benefits of space accessible to a much broader builder and user base will also be addressed along with some unreliable but hopefully interesting predictions of how the future of accessible space will unfold.

 

2. Re-Architecting Space Systems: Infrastructure Changes Everything

We are immersed in low cost, high performance products.  Smart phones communicate globally and access the internet for 99€, a car to drive across Europe for under 7000€, 2000€ for a small box (a heat pump) that heats your home all winter and cools it in summer, and wide screen viewing of films, sports, news, for the price of a 300€ television and a digital terrestrial antenna.

Infrastructure makes all that possible.  The 1100 km drive from Vienna to Rome without roads, without bridges, without filling and service stations without restaurants, without cell phone or radio, without lighting or even a map becomes just you, your vehicle, a compass and 1100 km of hills, mountains, rivers and forests.  You will need amphibious and off-road capability, tools for clearing trees and boulders, sufficient fuel for 1100 km of off-road range (figure thousands of liters), all the food, clothing, camping, survival and medical gear, weapons for killing animals for food and possibly self defense, to survive probably a month completely out of touch with civilization.  Plus a compass, sextant, star maps, highly accurate time keeping.  If something breaks, you must carry redundant systems and repair tools, backups of everything.  You will need a crew that knows how to use all that stuff and a management structure to run the enterprise.

This is how every space mission has been done since Sputnik..

Our low cost gadgets are merely interfaces to an infrastructure so rich and so ubiquitous that we have ceased to even notice it.  Until we launch into space, where there is none.  Every satellite, even a student-built 1 kg hold it in your hand cubesat, must communicate 1000 km back to it’s own ground station.  It must measure its own orbit, its own attitude.  With no place to plug-in, it must make and store all of its own electrical power.  It is vulnerable to space debris because there is no public health system to keep space clean.

What would space look like if instead of remaining the land of rugged individual pioneers, it became a community welcoming new inhabitants with a range of services they could simply plug into?  It would be much cheaper to inhabit, much simpler to do things in.  It would no longer require a team of experts working for sophisticated companies to get to and to operate in.  Communications would be no harder than your home wifi connection. Navigation like driving with a GPS.

What I have learned in a career working to lower the cost of spacecraft, is that space is still incomparably more expensive, and its cost and complexity keep most of the world out.  Only with infrastructure can we put space in reach of everyone.

 

Dr Rick Fleeter, guest speaker at the Skoltech Seminar on Satellite Systems

Dr Rick Fleeter, guest speaker at the Skoltech Seminar on Satellite Systems

Speaker introduction:

Dr. Rick Fleeter is Adjunct Associate Professor of Engineering at Brown University,Providence, RI, USA, and Visiting Professor in the faculty of aerospace engineering at La Sapienza Rome, Italy. In 1988 he founded and was for 21 years President of the small satellite company AeroAstro (USA), during which time he also co-founded Encounter 2001 and created the International Small Satellite Organization (ISSO) and Space Horizons.

He has been responsible for the development of over 25 miniature satellites ranging from 1 to 110 kg. He created and produces the annual one day Space Horizons emerging technologies Workshop at Brown University. Rick is a founder and partner in Space.Point, a space systems database company based in Rome.

Rick has written the only two books dedicated to small satellite technology and management, Micro Space Craft and The Logic of Microspace, and coauthored Space Program Management (all with Springer). He has contributed microspace chapters to encyclopedias and textbooks including Space Mission Engineering, Space Mission Analysis and Design and The Wiley Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. Rick holds PhD and AB degrees in Engineering and Economics from Brown University and MSc in aerospace engineering from Stanford University. Rick was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, September 7, 1954 and holds US and German Citizenship and passports. He is a native English speaker fluent in Italian

* The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia, a suburb of Moscow. Established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT, Skoltech educates global leaders in innovation, advances scientific knowledge, and fosters new technologies to address critical issues facing Russia and the world. Applying international research and educational models, the university integrates the best Russian scientific traditions with twenty-first century entrepreneurship and innovation.

Skoltech Space Scientist Awarded EU Innovation Grant

The EU commission Horizon 2020 program grant awarded to a team led by Skoltech professor Yuri Shprits. Image courtesy of EU commission. httpec.europa.eu

The EU commission Horizon 2020 program grant awarded to a team led by Skoltech professor Yuri Shprits. Image courtesy of EU commission. httpec.europa.eu

Over the last few decades various powerful nations have realized that outer space is where they can and should cooperate. International collaboration on space projects is driven by the dream of further exploration. But there is also the need to forecast hazardous events such as solar storms or high radiation levels – and prepare for those. And this is where Skoltech professor Yuri Shprits and his team of researchers come into the picture. The Moscow based scientists have developed a Space Forecast project, titled PROGRESS. Along with colleagues from seven European countries, they landed a grant from the highly competitive European Union’s Research and Innovation program “Horizon 2020″.

The funding is aimed to support the creation of a space weather forecasting framework. It highlights Skoltech’s growing role in the development of innovative technologies for space data processing, and the importance of global partnerships. Russia is not a member state of the EU. However, non-member states can be included in the H2020 grant if they contribute essential expertise that is not available anywhere else in Europe.

Professor Yuri Shprits, Skoltech, specializes in space forecast and magnetospheric reconstruction

Professor Yuri Shprits, Skoltech, specializes in space forecast and magnetospheric reconstruction

Shprits, who worked at UCLA and consulted students and scholars from Norway, China, Australia and the US, feels well positioned to foster collaboration. “I think the most exciting thing about PROGRESS is that we will combine the efforts of a number of international teams,” he says.

Outer space is an extremely challenging environment for sensitive electronic devices. When outside of the protection of atmosphere, devices are exposed to a constant stream of high-energy particles originating mainly from the Sun and trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. Hence the importance of magnetospheric reconstruction and space forecasting.

Prof. Shprits: “We will take the knowledge that was obtained over recent decades about the Sun, the solar wind and near Earth environment and transfer it into applications. The aim is to combine a number of computer codes and observations to develop real time prediction of the hazards to satellites and humans in space radiation environment.”

The intensity of radiation can vary, depending on solar wind conditions as well as on processes inside the magnetosphere. In order to determine where and when space equipment might fail, researchers and space agencies must constantly monitor the space environment with research satellites. The Skoltech professor, along with peers from UCLA and MIT, has recently published his findings in the field in the Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR)Space Physics (see links here and here).

“PROGRESS” aims to significantly contribute to the creation of new services for high accuracy space weather forecasting, which will be relevant for various space agencies, research groups and private companies. The prominent feature of the new method it offers is that it makes it possible to determine both the uncertainties of the physical model of near-space environment and of the satellite observations. Thus, it allows to combine those in an optimal way to achieve reconstruction with guaranteed precision.

The Horizon 2020 grant request and research proposal were submitted by a consortium of seven European countries. Grantees include the universities of Sheffield and Warwick (UK), the Finnish Meteorological Institute, University of Michigan (USA), the Space Research Institute of Ukraine (Ukraine), National Center for Scientific Research (France) and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.

The project’s schedule foresees implementation within 3 years.

 

 

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It pledges more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking ideas from the lab to the market.

* The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia, a suburb of Moscow. Established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT, Skoltech educates global leaders in innovation, advances scientific knowledge, and fosters new technologies to address critical issues facing Russia and the world. Applying international research and educational models, the university integrates the best Russian scientific traditions with twenty-first century entrepreneurship and innovation.

 

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