Fractionated Space Architectures: A Vision for Responsive Space
DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY ARLINGTON VA
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We propose a definition for responsive space that encompasses the speed with which a space system - broadly defined - can be made to react to various forms of uncertainty, ranging from geopolitical operational requirements to technical failures to fluctuations in the acquisition funding stream. We note that the ever-larger monolithic spacecraft of today are notoriously unresponsive. We then suggest a novel architectural paradigm, which we call fractionated spacecraft, whereby a satellite is decomposed into a set of similar or dissimilar component modules which interact wirelessly while in cluster orbits. A perfunctory survey of enabling technologies and an overview of the objectives of the forthcoming System F6 initiative at DARPA is provided. Given our more formal definition of responsiveness and this new proposed architecture, we conclude that spacecraft fractionation results in responsiveness across all possible scales of spacecraft size, including very large spacecraft systems that are only made possible by fractionation.
- Unmanned Spacecraft