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About this book

Reinventing Space is the largest global conference and exhibition for one of the space industry’s fastest growing sectors. Over its 82-year history, the British Interplanetary Society has acted as a forum for new and innovative ideas and developments in astronautics, low-cost access and utilization of space. These conference proceedings reflect the work done at the 13th Reinventing Space Conference, the second biggest space event in the UK during 2015.

The global economic climate is creating demand to reduce expenditure, leading to new challenges and opportunities in the world’s space industry. The need to create more responsive systems and launchers that are capable of delivering to space quickly, cheaply and reliably has never been more vital. This collection from RIspace brings together industry, agency, government, financiers, academia and end users. It focuses on the commercialization of space and addresses a range of topics including low-cost launch opportunities, the rebirth of constellations, beyond LEO activities and novel technologies. These papers encourage and promote forward-thinking ideas and concepts for the future exploration and utilization of space.

The proceedings address:

• New ways of doing business in space – how do we make money on affordable and responsive space missions?

• Tactical space systems – how do we best serve the needs of defense missions; civilian

missions; the needs of emergency responders?

• Interplanetary missions – can we use new technology to explore the Solar System at dramatically lower cost?

• What are the methods, processes, and technologies that we can use to make major reductions in the cost of space missions?

• New application areas for low-cost space systems – which ones can take advantage of newer, much lower-cost systems?

• How do we educate and motivate the coming generation, without whom there won’t be a space industry?

Table of Contents


Exploring our Solar System with cubesats and nanosats

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration of our solar system. We are known for our large, flagship missions, such as Voyager, which gave humanity its first close look at Jupiter and Saturn; and the Mars Rovers, which have excited millions worldwide with their daring landing exploits. Less familiar to those outside NASA may be our role in developing the Kepler mission, which has discovered more than 2000 planets around other stars; or the recently launched Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, one of many JPL Earth Science missions. A recent JPL initiative has emphasized low cost missions that use rapidly evolving technology developed for cubesats and nanosats to explore our solar system. Costs are significantly lower (by one or two orders of magnitude) than for conventional JPL missions, and development time is also significantly shorter. At present 21 such cubesat flight projects are under way at the laboratory with various partners: some in flight, some in development, some in advanced formulation. Four are planned as deep space missions. To succeed in exploring deep space cubesat/nanosat missions have to address several challenges: the more severe radiation environment, communications and navigation at a distance, propulsion, and packaging of instruments that can return valuable science into a compact volume/mass envelope. Instrument technologies, including cameras, magnetometers, spectrometers, radiometers, and even radars are undergoing miniaturization to fit on these smaller platforms. Other key technologies are being matured for smallsats and nanosats in deep space, including micro-electric propulsion, compact radio (and optical) communications, and onboard data reduction. This paper will describe missions that utilize these developments including the first two deep space cubesats (INSPIRE), planned for launch in 2017; the first pair of cubesats to be sent to another planet (MARCO), manifested with the InSight Mars lander launch in March of 2016; a helicopter “drone” on Mars to extend the reach of future rovers; plans for a Lunar Flashlight mission to shine a light on the permanently shadowed craters of the Moon’s poles; a Near Earth Asteroid cubesat mission; and a cubesat constellation to demonstrate time series measurements of storm systems on Earth. From these beginnings, the potential for cubesats and nanosats to add to our knowledge of the solar system could easily grow exponentially. Imagine if every deep space mission carried one or more cubesats that could operate independently (even for a brief period) on arrival at their target body. At only incremental additional cost, such spacecraft could go closer, probe deeper, and provide science measurements that we would not risk with the host spacecraft. This paper will describe examples including a nanosat to probe the composition of Venus’ atmosphere, impactors and close flybys of Europa, lunar probes, and soft landers for the moons of Mars. Low cost access to deep space also offers the potential for independent cubesat/nanosat missions – allowing us to characterize the population of near Earth asteroids for example, deploy a constellation around Venus, or take closer looks at the asteroid belt.
Anthony Freeman, Charles Norton

CubeSat-Scale High-Speed Laser Downlinks

The recent surge in the development of new commercial services hosted by satellites in low Earth orbit will lead to rapid increases in the demand for data downlinking, presenting a challenge for conventional radio-frequency communication systems. Optical communication systems offer a significant but so far unrealized potential for ultrahigh- volume downlinking. A number of demonstration laser communication missions have flown in space, but no optical systems are in routine operational use. Existing optical communication systems are typically too large for use in next-generation small commercial satellite systems.
The Optical Communication and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) is a three-spacecraft program that will provide a technology demonstration of the first laser communication system designed for use in CubeSats. Simplicity and low mass is achieved by dispensing with the gimbal system and using the spacecraft ACS to point the laser beam. The engineering model of the OCSD, launched in October 2015, was intended for risk-reduction for the two flight units to follow in spring 2016. A software anomaly cut short the testing of the ACS, but the spacecraft will still be used to test many other new flight systems. The anomaly will not delay the launch of the two flight units, which are expected to achieve downlink rates of up to 622 Mb/s. The OCSD mission demonstrates the approach to satellite development using the CubeSat paradigm, making use of frequent and inexpensive access to space to shorten development cycles, accept higher risks, and test by flying.
Richard Welle, Siegfried Janson, Darren Rowen, Todd Rose

The World’s First Commercial SAR and Optical 16-Satellite Constellation

UrtheCast plans to build, launch and operate the world’s first fully-integrated, multispectral Optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) commercial constellation of Earth observation satellites. These will be deployed over multiple launches in 2019 and 2020. Known as the Constellation, it will comprise of 8 Optical and 8 SAR satellites flying in two orbital planes, with each plane consisting of four satellite pairs. Each pair of satellites will consist of a dual-mode, high resolution Optical satellite (video and pushbroom) and a dual-band high resolution SAR satellite (X-band and L-band) flying in tandem.
The Constellation will provide an unmatched space-imaging capability, including high collection capacity, Optical and SAR data fusion, weather-independent high resolution imaging using the SAR, target revisit, and imaging latency. By flying the satellites in tightly-paired SAR and Optical tandem formations, the Constellation is expected to offer a number of innovative capabilities, including on-board real-time processing, cross-cueing between the satellites, and real-time cloud imaging on the leading SAR satellites that enables cloud avoidance in the trailing Optical satellites. By employing two orbital planes, the Constellation will allow for maximum revisit rates in the mid-latitudes, while providing global coverage extending to the poles.
This paper will describe how the envisaged constellation will create new opportunities for both businesses and government with an altogether new and responsive way to addressing applications.
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) is the strategic implementation partner for the satellite design and build and will use its considerable experience in designing spacecraft constellations to tackle this new challenge. This paper will provide some insight into the mission engineering approach that goes into a constellation of this complexity and performance. It will also provide an overview of the benefits of this strategic partnership between UrtheCast and SSTL.
Amar Vora, Liam Sills, Andrew Cawthorne, Caroline Slim, Rachel Bird, George Tyc, Wade Larson

Resource Prospector (RP): A Cost-Effective Lunar Resource Pathfinder

The Resource Prospector (RP) is an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology demonstration mission under study by the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD). This clever mission is currently planned to launch in 2020 and will demonstrate extraction of oxygen, water and other volatiles, as well measure mineralogical content such as silicon and light metals, like aluminum and titanium, from within lunar regolith. Efficient expansion of human presence beyond low-Earth orbit to asteroids and Mars will require the maximum possible use of local materials, so-called in-situ resources. The moon presents a unique destination to conduct robotic investigations that advance ISRU capabilities, as well as provide significant exploration and science value.
D. Andrews

Firefly – A New Generation of Low Cost, Small Satellite Launch Vehicles Designed to Serve the Rapidly Growing Small Satellite Market

In an ever evolving space industry where small satellites are recognised as representing one of the largest growth areas in the market, the need for launch vehicles and associated services aimed primarily at small satellites and their specific requirements (technical, economic and programmatic) is clear.
Tom Markusic, Shey Sabripour, PJ King, Andy Bradford

HeL1oNano: The first CubeSat to L1?

HeL1o Nano: The mission concept Mission summary – A technology demonstration and Heliophysics science mission – Based on 6U cubesat of 14 kg placed on a Lissajous orbit about Sun Earth Lagrange point 1 (SEL1) – Twin spacecraft option to improve reliability
Jonathan Eastwood, John Bellardo

Innovative Small Launcher

The market for small satellites is expected to increase substantially in the coming years, but there is little capacity to launch them affordably. No operational dedicated launcher for small satellites exists today. Small satellites, launched as secondary payloads, are entirely dependent on the constraints set by the primary payload, such as launch date and target orbit. Launch costs of less than €50,000 per kg of payload are required in order to directly compete with piggy-back ride shares. With a dedicated launcher a higher cost per kg can be accepted for payloads which need to be delivered timely and accurately to a desired orbit.
A. J. P. van Kleef, B. A. Oving, C. J. Verberne, B. Haemmerli, M. Kuhn, I. Müller, I. Petkov

The Google Lunar XPRIZE – Past, Present and Future

The Google Lunar XPRIZE is a US$30 Million prize purse competition to foster a new space economy through low-cost, efficient access to the Moon. Aside from the promise of re-opening the lunar surface to science and exploration, the Google Lunar XPRIZE is also a unique example of how the incentive prize model can be used to spur innovation in the space industry. This paper examines some of the most important ways that that innovation is being stimulated and summarises the progress and impacts to date
Andrew Barton, Nathan Wong, Derek Webber

SEAHAWK: A nanosatellite mission for sustained ocean observation

In a recent report, the US National Academy of Science has highlighted the need for sustained, advanced ocean colour research and operations. The report shows that ocean colour satellites provide a unique vantage point for observing the changing biology of our ocean’s surface. Space observations have transformed biological oceanography and are critical to advance our knowledge of how such changes affect important elemental cycles, such as the carbon and nitrogen cycles, and how the ocean’s biological processes influence the climate system. Many coastal applications— such as monitoring for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), ecosystem-based fisheries management, and research on benthic habitats including coral reefs and coastal wetlands—require greater spatial resolution than is currently available to resolve the complex optical signals that coastal waters produce. To combat this a team of scientists and engineers in the UK and United States have come together to develop a high resolution ocean colour sensor capable of integration with a custom designed 3U nanosatellite, termed Seahawk.
Hazel Jeffrey, Hessel Gorter, Alasdair Gow, Craig Clark, Alan Holmes, Craig Herrin, Linda Sasaki, John Morrison

Cost Disruptive Reflector Surface for Large Deployable Antennas

Current flight solutions for Large Deployable Antennas (LDA) most commonly employ the use of highly flexible metal wire knitted meshes as a reflector surface material. These surfaces, also known as ‘tricot meshes’, are normally realized using gold plated molybdenum and tungsten wires and require tensioning in the range of 5-10g/cm to obtain sufficient electrical contact between wires and to reduce surface RMS deformation to an acceptable level. The cell or facet size of a knitted mesh is determined by the operating frequency; the higher the frequency the higher the cell density required. Meshes are well known for lower frequency (L and S-band) applications but the challenges of operating LDAs at desired higher frequencies (Ka-band) means metal mesh surfaces require increasingly complex cable tensioning nets and a deviation away from proven mesh materials. High frequency operation of metal meshes also increases the likelihood of Passive Intermodulation (PIM) occurring and thus a degradation in the performance of the antenna.
Mike Lawton, Juan R Reveles, Zhong You, Ashley Dove-Jay, Amjad Khan, Vincent Fraux

An analytical, low-cost deployment strategy for satellite constellations

This work proposes a novel method for the deployment of a constellation of nano-satellites into Low Earth Orbit by using carrier vehicles to deliver the nano-satellites into the required orbit positions. The analytical solution presented allows for rapid exploration of the design space and a direct optimisation of the deployment strategy to minimise the time for complete constellation deployment. Traditionally, the deployment of satellite constellations requires numerous launches – at least one per orbital plane – which can be costly. Launching as a secondary payload may offer significant cost reductions, but this comes at the price of decreased control over the launch schedule and final orbit parameters. The analytical method presented here allows for the optimal positioning of the orbit planes of the constellation to be determined and the minimum time for deployment determined as a function of the manoeuvre ΔV. The effect of atmospheric drag on the manoeuvre propellant cost is also considered to ensure a realistic deployment scenario. A case study considering three constellation designs is presented which compares the cost of deployment using traditional launch methods with that of deploying the constellation using carrier vehicles. The results of this study show a significant reduction in cost when using the carrier vehicles on a dedicated launch, compared with launching the satellites individually. Most significantly, the launch cost when using carrier vehicles is primarily determined by the total number of satellites in the constellation, rather than the number of orbital planes. Thus, the carrier vehicle deployment strategy would allow for constellations with a large number of planes to be deployed for a fraction of the equivalent cost if traditional launch methods were used.
Ciara McGrath, Emma Kerr, Malcolm Macdonald

A New Era in Space Flight: The COTS Model of Commercial Partnerships at NASA

The commercial space industry can supply affordable and responsive space missions if government engages industry in a partnership. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) demonstrated the success of the partnership approach in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. By providing milestone-based funding and technical support to commercial partners, NASA stimulated development of commercial capabilities which today are servicing the International Space Station. The COTS program was conducted by NASA using funded Space Act Agreements. It was followed by the purchase of cargo transportation services by NASA under the Commercial Resupply Service contracts. This paper reviews the key attributes and lessons learned from COTS, and how the model has stimulated new commercial partnerships within NASA and beyond.
Dennis Stone

IODISPLay: Capturing European needs and capabilities for in-orbit demonstration of space technologies

Current In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) possibilities are restricted to either the identification of carriers of opportunity (where IOD has to fulfill with fixed requirements and interfaces, limited to a top-down approach) or to dedicated missions where a satellite is designed as a compromise among the needs of a number of identified technologies to be demonstrated in orbit. Moreover, often political choices drive the selection of the technologies to be validated in orbit, sometimes at the expenses of more interesting technologies in terms of innovation, time-to-market and future mission or industrial application. On the one hand, this approach strongly limits the maximum available potential of IOD. On the other hand, current trends in modular satellites, the now dynamic panorama of space launchers and innovative concepts certainly offer new and extended possibilities for IOD.
We believe that the optimum approach to build IOD missions shall consistently investigate and merge both the bottom-up and the top-down directions, i.e. on the one hand there must be a clear and extensive assessment exercise of the current and future technologies candidate for IOD and, on the other hand, a thorough identification exercise of IOD carriers and launcher services. This shall then drive the selection of IOD missions to be implemented at European level.
This paper will then present the results of a European-wide survey on current needs and capabilities for IOD, as well as the software tool that has been prepared in order to use such information on technologies, launchers and carriers in order to identify IOD missions. Also, this paper will describe the results of an analysis of the potential market of a commercial IOD service at European level, identifying the supply and the demand for such service (including the willingness to pay). The activities described in this paper are part of the IODISPLay project which has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 640253.
Giovanni Binet, Gabriele Novelli, Celestino Gomez Cid, Marco Bolchi

Optimal (not opportunity) orbits for rideshare payloads

As rideshare launches become more commonplace secomdary payloads continue to be challenged by the limited choice of orbits, upper stage restart capability and risk-averse nature of primary payloads to allow for flexibility in the development sequence. The result is that a secondary payload’s final orbit is limited by its host and the propulsion capability of the individual spacecraft, particularly so for cubesat class passengers.
Chris Pearson, Marissa Stender, Chris Loghry, Joe Maly

Gateway Earth - Low Cost Access to Interplanetary Space

The paper describes some aspects of a proposed space development whose aim is to dramatically reduce the cost of missions, both crewed and robotic, to anywhere in the solar system.
Derek Webber

New superlight class of Launch Vehicles from Yuzhnoye

Study of configurations of superlight class of ILV which allows to launch micro- and nanosatellites into required orbits and to essentially reduce costs of a single mission (as compared to injection by more heavier ILV) was made by Yuzhnoye SDO within research works.
The study was based on using prospective technologies, particularly structures made of carbon-filled plastic and onboard avionics on the basis of the up-to-date microelectronic technologies. In line with modern requirements regarding development of ecologically friendly rocketry, liquid oxygen and kerosene are used as ILV propellants. The report includes different options and peculiarities of superlight ILVs currently under development at Yuzhnoye.
Olexander Degtyarev, Mykola Lytvyn, Oleh Ventskovsky

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle from a Balloon Platform

In the last decade there has been growing use of smaller satellites (0-100kg) to conduct Earth observation and science missions and this industry is growing. 2014 saw a small satellite launch increase of 72% compared with 2013. Companies such as Planet Labs are starting to launch large numbers of small satellites. However, to date the use of small satellites has been restricted due to the limited launch availability to this class of satellite. Due to their small size these satellites are normally launched as secondary payloads on larger launch vehicles (such as Falcon 9 or Ariane 5). This restriction has severely limited the launch dates available to these small satellites and also limits their orbit selection.
Kieran Hayward, Jose Mariano Lopez Urdiales

Reinventing constellations: the effectiveness of rideshare approaches for constellation deployment

CubeSats have achieved growing credibility among government and commercial stakeholders as a valid architecture for future space systems, and many groups have proposed fielding CubeSat constellations for applications ranging from space-weather monitoring to space-based surveillance. Due to their small size and mass, a large number of CubeSats can be lofted to orbit to yield resilient constellations with short revisit times and global coverage. However, the challenge of reaching the application-specific orbits necessary for some proposals is often neglected, and although several small-satellite launchers are in development, rideshare is likely to remain the most reliable access to space for CubeSats for the foreseeable future.
This paper evaluates the near-term feasibility and performance of several multi-satellite CubeSat mission concepts by constraining constellation designs to those that could be assembled using the current and prospective rideshare manifests. For several promising CubeSat constellation applications, we assess how different combinations of these rideshare opportunities yield better or worse performance and also how many CubeSats in such rideshareinitiated constellations are necessary to achieve the mission goals. We also identify launches in upcoming years that, if outfitted with rideshare capability, would have the most positive impact on enabling these applications. With this characterization of the trade space for future constellations, acquisition agencies can design more streamlined space architectures that take judicious advantage of limited rideshare openings, and rideshare intermediaries will have some guidance on where the CubeSat community could most benefit from the implementation of rideshare capability.
Joseph W. Gangestad, James R. Wilson, Kristin L. Gates, John V. Langer

MicroLaunch: The Electric Rocket

Pico, nano and micro class satellites (1 to 200kg) are being used in ever greater numbers by commercial providers (e.g. Skybox Imaging, Planet Labs), universities, domestic space agencies and military research. These classes of satellites have the greatest potential for growth in Earth Observation (EO) and telecommunications applications as they are highly suited for rapidly establishing high temporal and moderate spatial resolution constellations.
A. Bacon

Design Criteria of Remote Sensing Constellations of Small Satellites with Low Power Electric Propulsion and Distributed Payloads

The recent explosion in proposed microsatellite missions is based on the possibility to mass-produce cheap platforms capable to deliver acceptable performance over a limited lifetime. The assumption behind such scheme is that individual microsatellites are expected/allowed to fail in reasonable numbers, the resulting degradation of constellation performance being limited due to the large population of active spacecraft. We argue that cheap platforms do not necessarily need to be seen as disposable assets, so that low cost constellations featuring a low number of microsatellites may nevertheless be capable of remarkable performance. The key technology needed to enable such feat is low power electric propulsion, whereby microsatellites are allowed to acquire and maintain precisely tuned orbital locations, compensate atmospheric drag to fly longer, and de-orbit safely at end of life. A number of such microsatellites may be fitted with an instrument each from a suite of different sensors operating in various spectral bands. The constellation would operate as an actively controlled system, with the individual instruments providing well coordinated raw data that may be processed using data fusion techniques to yield the final product. Starting from the proven performance of a currently available low power Hall thruster, we present general design criteria for constellations based on a 50 kg-class microsatellite bus. The potential benefits of such technology are outlined with respect to applications such as precision farming, urban area monitoring, and dual use land surveillance.
Salvo Marcuccio, Stefan Gregucci, Pierpaolo Pergola

Feasibility study of LTA launch system for micro and smaller satellites

Nowadays, space companies are investing more and more in smaller satellites aiming to reduce projects costs and complexity. Despite the use of Pico/Nano and Micro-sats has considerably increased throughout the last few years, a reserved launch vehicle is still missing. This paper analyses both the economic and technical feasibility of a reusable stratospheric launch pad based on lighter-than-air (LTA) technology. The possibility to lift the launch pad up to stratospheric altitude with the use of airship technology has been investigated. Around 20-25 km of height the rocket ascension is less affected by some typical losses, such as air drag and atmospheric loss. Thus, stratospheric launch can ensure higher performance of the rocket, higher mass ratio, and less fuel is required. The above mentioned configuration seems promising for a small satellite launcher. Being tailored to service the smaller spacecraft it will be able to provide a much better and more reliable service with respect to the piggyback solution. Thanks to atmospheric condition in which the rocket will operate, LTA design would not only ensure advantages but it will be also able to provide a larger launch window availability with respect to the ground launch station. Indeed, thanks to its capability to fly above the jet streams it would be possible to ignore weather condition that usually provokes ground launch delay and abort. Moreover, it would be able to ensure launch operation to a wider range of orbit with respect to any kind of ground launch pad. Starting from the market analysis (section 1), the future need of a dedicated launch system for small satellites has been proved. This analysis identified the payload mass requirement. Since the production and development cost evaluation of this system is based on the size of the airship, a preliminary environment analysis and mass breakdown is required. For this reason section 2 and 3 are focused on these aspects. In order to evaluate the economical feasibility of the project, the final section will outline the cost comparison between Airship Assisted Launch System (AALS) and traditional launch facilities. If feasible, AALS could ensure valuable advantages in small satellites launches. The serviceable orbits and the launching window availability are just two among the most important benefits that air launch based on LTA technology could provide.
Andrea Testore

Could reusable air-launch break the space access paradigm?

Although the performance and operational benefits of air-launch have been recognised since the dawn of the Space Age, few operational systems have been fielded to date and none have generated any significant customer demand. This lack of success is a consequence of two basic factors: 1) performance limitations of the air-launch platform or ‘zero-stage’, especially if existing aircraft are considered, which thereby limit the addressable market; 2) insufficient advantages over ground-launch systems with similar payload performance when expendable rocket stages are used. This paper assesses the potential of a small, fully reusable, subsonic airlaunch system to overcome both of these limiting factors and, in doing so, shows how such a system could break the current space access paradigm (i.e. space access is expensive because the demand for it is small, but the demand is small because space access is expensive). This ‘disruptive’ potential is assessed in terms of three key system aspects – performance, operations and economics – and thereby highlights the significant and unique benefits of a small, fully reusable, subsonic air-launch system.
David J. Salt

First Steps Towards the Kingston Space Shot

Kingston University London students supported by sponsors are working towards the most ambitious educational space activity the UK has ever seen: a low cost Space shot or rocket launch to beyond the 100km Karman line, with vehicle recovery.
The Kingston rocket launch aims to contribute to the UK civil space strategy ‘Access to Space’ element, the National Space Technology Strategy’s Access to Space roadmap, and it is hoped it will act as an inspiration to a new generation of scientists and engineers.
The first step in a staged development programme began in summer 2015, with the design of the low altitude test vehicle and initial testing of its hybrid rocket engine propulsion unit.
Kingston University's School of Aerospace & Aircraft Engineering MEng class have been given a target of designing a vehicle capable of reaching an altitude of 25km (80000ft) that can be fully recovered for multiple uses, and to conduct an initial test launch in the summer of 2016.
Design work coupled with engine static tests at the KURocketlab began in July 2015.
The vehicle will be designed around an engine that will demonstrate the full capability of the KU Rocketlab small space propulsion test facility. The engine and rocket Preliminary Design Review is planned to take place immediately prior to RISpace 2015. Subject to support from existing and new sponsors who are assisting the student project team, the intention is to commence build by the end of 2015, conduct a system testing in early 2016 and be ready for launch by summer 2016. Success will be the first step on the road to a low cost sounding rocket capability and ultimately, with industrial and academic partners, improved UK access to space.
Adam M Baker, Malcolm Claus

Enabling Solutions for Small Satellite Space Access

The Small Satellites market is growing and is expected to grow even further in the coming years. If the announced satellite constellations are included in the prognosis, we will see an unprecedented amount of satellites to be launched in the coming years.
Andreas Jonsson, Magnus Engström

Development of Low Cost Propulsion Systems for Launch and InSpace Applications

The development of low cost propulsion systems for launch-, in-space and space tourism applications are a key component to enable private space flight.
Peter H. Weuta

Electromagnetic Launch to Space

A study was undertaken to determine if a ground-based electromagnetic (EM) acceleration system could provide a useful reduction in launch-to-orbit costs compared with current large chemical boosters, while increasing launch safety and reliability. The study evaluated the launch of a two-stage-to-low- Earth-orbit projectile, with the initial velocity being provided electromagnetically and the orbit insertion via a rocket motor. Several electromagnetic accelerator options are available but railguns were chosen for this study based on their demonstrated performance capabilities. The second stage of the system was assumed to be a chemical rocket that would carry a payload into low-Earth orbit.
Electromagnetic launch systems of this type will be governed by the same fundamental principles as tactical railguns with a major difference being that the EM accelerator track–which may be tens or hundreds of meters in length–cannot be powered only from the “breech” as in a tactical railgun, since electrical resistive losses will become unacceptably large. To overcome this, a distributed feed system will be required.
This study shows that the capital cost of the pulsed power system for the EM accelerator will dominate the system economics. With present pulsed power approaches, multiple launches will be required to offset the capital cost and provide low costs. The development of novel pulsed power concepts and/or low-cost manufacturing approaches will ensure that the EM system will be economically attractive and options for such approaches are discussed.
Ian R. McNab, Timothy R. Wolfe

The Prospect for Orbital Airliners

Demonstrator rocketplane Single seat, small science payload to near-space height Least cost and risk rocketplane project Only project grounded in well-established heritage designs - Smaller and simpler than SR.53 rocket fighter of 1957 Only project designed specifically as lead in to orbital space plane - Piloted, winged, horizontal take off and landing, jet and rocket engines
Scott Hatton

Dynamically Supported Launch Infrastructure

The space cable is a system of evacuated tubes held aloft by fast-travelling objects called bolts inside them using magnetic levitation to minimize friction. It is an extension of existing technology using permanent magnets stabilized electronically. No new materials are required.
John Kanpman

Fostering technology innovation in space through national activities: The swiss example

In 2010, Switzerland initiated national activities, in order “To foster and promote Swiss scientific and technological competences related to space activities”. These measures where implemented by the Swiss Space Office of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI/SSO) and the Swiss Space Center was entrusted to ensure the technical implementation and the follow-up. This consists in issuing a “Call for Proposals” every other year, open to all technologies with promising application in the space domain and more specifically in the upstream market in line with the priority axes of the Swiss space policy. Considered as a success, this first initiative was supported in 2013 by the implementation of a “Call for Ideas” targeting early stage technologies. These national measures will be completed in 2016 by the establishment of an ESA Business Incubation Center (BIC). The first results achieved after five years of national activities are very encouraging, success stories are emerging which makes the space industry “one of the most research-intensive and innovative industries in Switzerland” [1].
Grégoire Bourban, Volker Gass, Johann Richard
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