Can an Enterprise Ground System Keep Pace?
February 2018 Edition
Some of the large satellites in orbit today have exceeded 20 years in space. That is impressive, to say the least, and speaks highly of the engineers who designed them. These satellites were expensive to develop, have complex mission capabilities and often have dedicated ground systems.
As these missions evolved, new, large satellites were designed on similar timelines. Each evolution represented its own multi-year program with well planned changes to match the mission, the vehicle, operations, and the ground systems.
Those older vehicles were designed for missions that existed in the 1990’s. The world has since changed and a more responsive approach is needed today. Space is now a contested environment. The U.S. military needs responsive missions as well as resilient architectures. To ensure success, these new architectures must be driven with the same philosophies, provide identical agilities as well as accommodate an accelerated rate of change, both in space and on the ground.
Small satellites (smallsats) offer a potential solution in space. They are less costly to develop and launch and have sufficient capacity for a wide range of sensors. With a lifespan of from three to five years, a frequent refresh of on orbit capabilities is attainable. ...