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Mission-Ready Propulsion: Test and Choose the Best low thrust propulsion

Following the FCC rule that satellites must deorbit within a specified number

Mission-Ready Propulsion: Test and Choose the Best low thrust propulsion

Following the FCC rule that satellites must deorbit within a specified number of years, new generations of satellites in any LEO constellation now require propulsion. In many cases, after a successful launch of the first generation of the constellation, the payload design has been validated and tested in orbit and its design has not changed. Nonetheless, based on the trajectory and delta V budgets determined during the preliminary design phase, engineers are moving into the Critical Design Review (CDR).

In this phase, they will select different subsystems to meet the mission requirements. A crucial task for the engineers is to understand, simulate, and decide on the appropriate propulsion system for their platform and the numerous satellites in the constellation. This decision is critical because, without proper propulsion, the LEO constellation cannot be deployed or maintained, thereby jeopardizing the mission and the company's revenue. Due to mass constraints and mission duration, chemical propulsion has been ruled out, making an electrical low-thrust propulsion system the only viable option for the mission.

The problem

Even though the payload has been designed and validated in orbit, adding propulsion introduces a new set of challenges related to power constraints. Now, two subsystems are consuming significant amounts of power instead of just one. Additionally, low-thrust maneuvering presents difficulties in simulation because the burn durations can last from several minutes to several hours, constantly altering the orbits during thruster activation. Today, tools capable of simulating low-thrust maneuvers are not well adapted for non-experts in mission analysis, as they require users to manually parameterize and optimize burn duration and position to achieve the desired orbital changes.

Introducing spacestudio

spacestudio-satellite specializes in continuous low-thrust maneuvers, leveraging Exotrail's expertise in low-thrust propulsion.It offers preset maneuvers and maneuver strategies to optimize transfers based on the satellite's mission lifetime, from deployment to decommissioning.Specific propulsion output metrics are provided to help understand the challenges between propulsion usage and other subsystems. Additionally, it allows users to directly compare different propulsion solutions and choose the best one that meets mission constraints.

How it works:

1)    Build your Timeline:

Gives a high-level overview of your mission and the various maneuvers within it.

2)    Run some Comparisons to rule out trajectory and system choices that don’t meet mission requirements with minimal effort. Easily Compare subsystems, trajectory configurations etc. Dig deeper into a chosen trajectory  and optimise further based on your mission requirements & constraints.

3)    Export results and give to neighbouring teams


spacestudio-Satellite’s low thrust expertise means engineers can have confidence in their analyses & results to choose the propulsion system best suited to their mission, so the solution chosen  is compliant with FCC legislation.

spacestudio reduces complexity in parametrisation by tailoring the workflows as well as the analyses so it enables non-mission analysis experts to access meaningful data related to propulsion systems to further continue the design of the platform.

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