A Small Revolution in Space: An Analysis of the Challenges to US Military Adoption of Small Satellite Constellations
SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
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This study explores the potential challenges to US military adoption of small satellite constellations into its space architecture. It begins by analyzing the different small satellite constellations that are currently being proposed or deployed on orbit. The history of US policy and acquisition strategies towards remote sensing systems and commercial satellite communications is then explored in detail. Case studies tracing the consolidation of the remote sensing industry down to just one company and the bankruptcy and reemergence of the first commercial satellite constellation, Iridium, are analyzed for lessons that can be applied to future acquisition strategies. Detailed analysis of the problems with current and historical approaches to acquiring both remote sensing and commercial satellite communications follow the historical study. The research concludes with recommendations on how to better posture the US military to properly leverage the emerging technology of small satellite constellations and the difficulties of denying their use to adversaries.
- Unmanned Spacecraft
- Military Forces and Organizations