Author Topic: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program  (Read 26414 times)

Offline a_langwich

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http://www.spacenews.com/article/financial-report/37659darpa-awards-40-million-contract-for-orbital-salvage-demo

$40 million contract to Novawurks, to use their "satlet" to retrieve an antenna from a satellite in a graveyard orbit.

When I first read the article, I was thinking of "salvage" as orbital debris mitigation, which this is not.  In that context, going to satellites in graveyard orbits isn't the first choice, nor is monkeying around with them in a way that might conceivably produce more debris.  So don't make the mistake I made.  :)

My second thought was that the big dish on modern satellites may be the floppiest and most delicate piece of hardware to tackle (since many are now unfolded on orbit), and they (DARPA/Novawurks) better have detailed schematics of the satellite and a very comprehensive plan on how to remove it, even given the fanciest of robotic arms and equipment.  A large antenna slightly out of shape = worthless.  A large antenna not impedance-matched to the transmitter = worth less.  A large antenna designed for a different frequency spectrum than the one you plan to use = might not be worth much.

My third thought was, "I wonder if this satlet thing would fit in the payload bay of an OTV?"

My fourth thought was, screw the antenna, let's grab a power supply and SEP propulsion and perhaps a way to swap in newer digital imaging hardware, and go for a KH-11!  That is, don't plan to take a component from a satellite, plan to be a "head crab" that attaches to a satellite and re-animates and repurposes it.  Hubbles for all!

My fifth thought came back around full circle.  I don't see, given orbital mechanics and launch prices and obsolescence of hardware, that this will ever have much use.  Which, unfortunately, may be very different from whether DARPA/USAF will throw lots of money at it.  Targeted at satellites of foreign origin, it would be a poor replacement for 1) nearby sensors to figure out what a part was doing or 2) a simple ASAT or deorbiting technology to cripple or remove a satellite.  Given that, I wish they would spend the money instead on debris mitigation / de-orbiting technology demonstrations.  It would probably serve them better in the long run.

What do you think?

Offline Archibald

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #1 on: 10/19/2013 10:07 AM »
It's DARPA doing its job of DARPA - trying crazy things on a military, shoestring budget so that, if the said thing fails, no one will complain. And if that yield some positive results, then they will share it with the outside world (sooner or later) and everybody will be happy and benefit from it.
Over the last thirty years or more a lot of organizations have literally agonized over satellite servicing or not. DARPA is doing his best to try and unlock that situation...
« Last Edit: 10/19/2013 10:08 AM by Archibald »

Offline baldusi

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #2 on: 10/19/2013 04:05 PM »
On the other hand, an antenna for your desired band will be useful and probably the least likely to be obsolete. And DARPA exist to try the almost impossible or what looks like ridiculous at first.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #3 on: 10/19/2013 08:57 PM »
It's DARPA doing its job of DARPA - trying crazy things on a military, shoestring budget so that, if the said thing fails, no one will complain. And if that yield some positive results, then they will share it with the outside world (sooner or later) and everybody will be happy and benefit from it.
Over the last thirty years or more a lot of organizations have literally agonized over satellite servicing or not. DARPA is doing his best to try and unlock that situation...


You've pretty much described DARPA. Their biggest strength is that high personnel turnover (by design) means that they get new people willing to try new things. Their biggest weakness is probably that their high turnover means that they have no institutional memory and try things that have been tried in the past and failed. Certainly it is possible that new technology makes it possible to do things now that have not worked in the past, but not always. Sometimes things don't work because they can't work (or are dumb). DARPA has a public reputation for its successes, but it has failed a lot too.

I don't know the particulars behind Phoenix, but I can sort of guess. One of the problems with refueling schemes that various people and companies have proposed over the years is that refueling only gets you an obsolete satellite. As one very knowledgeable guy I know (who has worked on a lot of expensive satellite programs over the decades) put it: "Do you buy a new battery for a five-year-old laptop?" No, the technology is so much better that you upgrade.

Phoenix may be taking this into account, recognizing that you don't want the electronics from old satellites. They're old. And you may not be able to count on their reliability. So what do you want? You'd want the simplest still-useable thing you could get off a satellite, which is the antenna.

On the one hand that seems to make some sense. On the other hand... HUH? How much value are you going to get from that antenna? Is the equipment necessary for rendezvousing with the satellite and removing the antenna worth the cost of the antenna? Are you really going to save any money? By my reasoning, you have to launch an expensive piece of equipment (satellite rendezvous and cutter/manipulator) in order to grab a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment. It's kinda like buying a $1000 crusher to crush a $0.02 aluminum can for recycling. That makes sense if you can get the volume high. But how's that going to work for satellites?

But I've seen space money spent on stupider things.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #4 on: 10/19/2013 08:59 PM »
I should add to the above one thing that has always puzzled me about DARPA: how do they choose what new technology ideas to fund? If that process is sound, then I'd have confidence in them. But if they are just pulling these things out of a hat (or worse), with no analysis ahead of time, then I'd be worried. Is there a better technology for them to invest in?

Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #5 on: 10/19/2013 10:31 PM »
What do you think?

I was a PI on one of the smaller DARPA Phoenix Phase 1 contracts (and my startup was also a sub to another JPL-led effort that was also part of Phase 1), so I think I grok what Dave is trying to achieve with Phoenix. I personally think it's a really neat program, and that they've got a decent logical rationale behind a lot of the technical decisions that are kind of hard to convey in a quick "we won a contract" press release like the one you quoted to start the thread.

Unfortunately, while it's an open program, DARPA still requires all of us who had contracts to run any public comments through their DISTAR approval process, which typically takes a while (up to a month), which makes commenting on a forum (or tweets or blog posts) somewhat slower than I'd like. They have however approved some materials for release over the past year though, and some of those might shed some light on the program and the logic behind it. Let me see if I can dig some of those up and share them on this thread. While I don't agree 100% on every last detail of logic for the program, I still think it's a neat idea that I really hope we get a chance to see fly.

~Jon

Offline robertross

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #6 on: 10/19/2013 11:30 PM »
What do you think?

Unfortunately, while it's an open program, DARPA still requires all of us who had contracts to run any public comments through their DISTAR approval process, which typically takes a while (up to a month), which makes commenting on a forum (or tweets or blog posts) somewhat slower than I'd like. They have however approved some materials for release over the past year though, and some of those might shed some light on the program and the logic behind it. Let me see if I can dig some of those up and share them on this thread. While I don't agree 100% on every last detail of logic for the program, I still think it's a neat idea that I really hope we get a chance to see fly.

~Jon

That would be cool to see.
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Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #7 on: 10/21/2013 06:56 PM »
That would be cool to see.

Here are a few resources that have been approved for public release:
http://ssco.gsfc.nasa.gov/workshop_2012/Barnhart_final_presentation_2012_workshop.pdf

This was an overview of the program that Dave Barnhart (the PM) gave at a satellite servicing meeting in 2012, shortly before the Phase 1 efforts started. I'd pay particular attention to the goals on page 6 of the presentation.

Attached are two papers and associated presentations from an AIAA conference a year ago. They were all as I understand it, approved for unlimited distribution, so I think I'm ok sharing them here.

The first set deal with the concept of satellite cellularization (using "Satlets"), and the second deals with the economic logic behind their concept of reusing apertures.

I know there were a lot of updates at SPACE 2013, but I didn't have copies of those, and you'd probably need to pay to view them at the AIAA site.

~Jon

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #8 on: 10/22/2013 12:40 AM »
 At the bottom of page 2 of the "Economics of Repurposing in situ retired spacecraft components" paper assembly in space to build very large apertures for RF and optical systems is mentioned. This relates to something I had been wondering about lately. Taken to the extreme, might three huge antennas with appropriate electronics, built in GEO, be able to replace cell phone towers by allowing 2 way comm with existing cellphones directly?
 That would be what - a trillion dollar business? 

Offline a_langwich

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #9 on: 10/23/2013 12:13 AM »
Thanks Jon! 

Good reading.  I'd have to agree that I don't agree with every last detail of logic, although I don't need to be as politically sensitive as that.  :)

Nor does it excite me as much as the Tethers Unlimited proposal to build structure in space using 3D printers--that's something that flat out should be funded for development studies on orbit.  It's a stretch, but at least a stretch toward a clearly functional system.  For Phoenix, there are various troubling gaps and questions in the overall system for me, although I think there's a lot of merit in exploring several of the pieces.  All their pictures show the salvaged antenna with miraculously small "satlet" electronics, but where is the power generation (eg solar panels)?  May be the follow-on program to Phoenix? 

The Payload Orbit Delivery (POD) subsystem:  was that developed under Phase 1?

And then a Tender/Servicer spacecraft--is that what they plan to develop now, or is it partly done already?  It seems like it is similar to a long line of satellite-servicing ideas.  Does salvaging improve the economics over servicing?  Still, a working design would be a good testbed for many, many ideas. 

Did Novawurks develop the "satlet" stuff, which if I'm reading the presentation right should be launched on/in a POD, or did it develop the Tender/Servicer spacecraft?  Or are they combining the prototype satlet stuff with prototype pieces of the T/S, and launching a test of that?

I wonder what somebody with a lot of experience in the satellite-building industry, who could give a pretty thorough breakdown of various satellites and their cost by subsystem, would say about this project?  A satellite-builder "Jim" who might perform this function for the DARPA PM: 
.   

;)

Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #10 on: 10/23/2013 08:03 PM »
Thanks Jon! 

Good reading.  I'd have to agree that I don't agree with every last detail of logic, although I don't need to be as politically sensitive as that.  :)

Nor does it excite me as much as the Tethers Unlimited proposal to build structure in space using 3D printers--that's something that flat out should be funded for development studies on orbit.  It's a stretch, but at least a stretch toward a clearly functional system.  For Phoenix, there are various troubling gaps and questions in the overall system for me, although I think there's a lot of merit in exploring several of the pieces.  All their pictures show the salvaged antenna with miraculously small "satlet" electronics, but where is the power generation (eg solar panels)?  May be the follow-on program to Phoenix? 

The Payload Orbit Delivery (POD) subsystem:  was that developed under Phase 1?

And then a Tender/Servicer spacecraft--is that what they plan to develop now, or is it partly done already?  It seems like it is similar to a long line of satellite-servicing ideas.  Does salvaging improve the economics over servicing?  Still, a working design would be a good testbed for many, many ideas. 

Did Novawurks develop the "satlet" stuff, which if I'm reading the presentation right should be launched on/in a POD, or did it develop the Tender/Servicer spacecraft?  Or are they combining the prototype satlet stuff with prototype pieces of the T/S, and launching a test of that?

I wonder what somebody with a lot of experience in the satellite-building industry, who could give a pretty thorough breakdown of various satellites and their cost by subsystem, would say about this project?  A satellite-builder "Jim" who might perform this function for the DARPA PM: 
.   

;)

One important note to keep in mind is that these presentations were all given before Phase 1 was underway. A lot of your concerns have been addressed since then, but I don't have any copies of their SPACE 2013 papers, so I don't know how much of that has been addressed in a way that's approved for public release.

But a couple of questions that I do think are save to answer:

1- NovaWurks was doing satlet stuff, they were not doing the servicer/tender, that was another group
2- They did address the power generation side of things for satlets during Phase 1

~Jon
« Last Edit: 10/23/2013 08:08 PM by jongoff »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #11 on: 10/23/2013 09:32 PM »
...One of the problems with refueling schemes that various people and companies have proposed over the years is that refueling only gets you an obsolete satellite. As one very knowledgeable guy I know (who has worked on a lot of expensive satellite programs over the decades) put it: "Do you buy a new battery for a five-year-old laptop?"...
Hey, I do! ;)
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Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #12 on: 10/25/2013 08:41 PM »
En
...One of the problems with refueling schemes that various people and companies have proposed over the years is that refueling only gets you an obsolete satellite. As one very knowledgeable guy I know (who has worked on a lot of expensive satellite programs over the decades) put it: "Do you buy a new battery for a five-year-old laptop?"...
Hey, I do! ;)

End of Life disposal services, like what Dennis Wingo pitched as part of his business plan yesterday at the NewSpace Biz Plan Competition, seem to make more sense. For GEO satellites, the prop to move from GEO to graveyard orbit is equivalent to something like 6-9mos of stationkeeping. Adding an extra 6-9 mos of stationkeeping for a fraction of the revenue stream makes more sense than refueling a 15year old satellite.

~Jon

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #13 on: 10/26/2013 07:00 PM »
En
...One of the problems with refueling schemes that various people and companies have proposed over the years is that refueling only gets you an obsolete satellite. As one very knowledgeable guy I know (who has worked on a lot of expensive satellite programs over the decades) put it: "Do you buy a new battery for a five-year-old laptop?"...
Hey, I do! ;)

End of Life disposal services, like what Dennis Wingo pitched as part of his business plan yesterday at the NewSpace Biz Plan Competition, seem to make more sense. For GEO satellites, the prop to move from GEO to graveyard orbit is equivalent to something like 6-9mos of stationkeeping. Adding an extra 6-9 mos of stationkeeping for a fraction of the revenue stream makes more sense than refueling a 15year old satellite.

~Jon
Good point but it seems odd that a short life extension is valuable while a long extension is not. MDA has demonstrated much of the refueling tech already and the cost difference between refueling a sat and moving a sat to a graveyard orbit is likely not that great is it? In both cases the servicer must rendezvous and grapple the sat and carry propellant. Both must be used multiple times to be cost effective although the refueler must likely be resupplied since it must carry more propellant which ups its cost. Still a sat that is currently giving customers sat TV will continue to perform this service for perhaps many more years for a fraction of the cost of a new sat. The new sat may be superior technologically but in both cases the customer still gets their MTV. The new sat may do more better faster than the old one but both do the job and extending the life of the old one is perhaps much cheaper. The new tech is superior in comparison to launching a sat with the old tech but perhaps not more cost effective when compared to extending the old sat's lifetime.
 Another possibility is moving the old sat to a new slot to serve new customers at a lower cost than a service provider would have to charge if a new sat was used. Your five year old laptop might be quite valuable to someone who can't afford a new one but can afford a battery.

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #14 on: 11/15/2013 10:40 PM »
Taken to the extreme, might three huge antennas with appropriate electronics, built in GEO, be able to replace cell phone towers by allowing 2 way comm with existing cellphones directly?
 That would be what - a trillion dollar business? 

No, the latency would make it nonviable and therefore a 0$ business

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #15 on: 11/15/2013 10:42 PM »
Your five year old laptop might be quite valuable to someone who can't afford a new one but can afford a battery.

But replacing the battery costs as much as a new laptop

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #16 on: 11/15/2013 10:44 PM »

1.  MDA has demonstrated much of the refueling tech already
2.   the cost difference between refueling a sat and moving a sat to a graveyard orbit is likely not that great is it?

1.  No, they have not.   Especially, not with a spacecraft that is not designed for it.

2.  It is magnitudes greater.

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #17 on: 11/16/2013 02:49 PM »

1.  No, they have not.   Especially, not with a spacecraft that is not designed for it.

2.  It is magnitudes greater.

1.  Yes, the technologies have been ground tested.  At MDA and at NASA.  NASA is flight testing those technologies on-orbit at ISS.

2.  No, it is not "magnitudes" greater.  Graveyarding costs 2-3 months of effective satellite revenue thus on the order of $10-$12M in lost revenue.  Prior business arrangement have shown that refueling is worth $10M-$12M per year of added life per satellite to an owner operator.

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #18 on: 11/16/2013 04:03 PM »

1.  Yes, the technologies have been ground tested.  At MDA and at NASA.  NASA is flight testing those technologies on-orbit at ISS.

2.  No, it is not "magnitudes" greater.  Graveyarding costs 2-3 months of effective satellite revenue thus on the order of $10-$12M in lost revenue.  Prior business arrangement have shown that refueling is worth $10M-$12M per year of added life per satellite to an owner operator.

1.  Ground testing does not qualify "demonstrated" for flight operations

2. Business arrangements that were never carried out do not qualify as proof.

Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #19 on: 11/16/2013 05:43 PM »

1.  Yes, the technologies have been ground tested.  At MDA and at NASA.  NASA is flight testing those technologies on-orbit at ISS.

2.  No, it is not "magnitudes" greater.  Graveyarding costs 2-3 months of effective satellite revenue thus on the order of $10-$12M in lost revenue.  Prior business arrangement have shown that refueling is worth $10M-$12M per year of added life per satellite to an owner operator.

1.  Ground testing does not qualify "demonstrated" for flight operations

Jim... haven't you seen the Robotic Refueling Mission videos? They've been testing it on orbit on ISS on simulated task boards. That may not be TRL 9 yet, but that should count for something, even to a skeptic, shouldn't it?

Quote
2. Business arrangements that were never carried out do not qualify as proof.

While it is true that nobody has demonstrated the business case closes...isn't that true of even of successful business models before someone has made them work the first time? I agree there's room for *some* skepticism, particularly about timing and busines model closure at this point in time. But there's plenty of examples of technologies or business models that people thought of long before all the pieces were there to make them happen. Cars and heavier than air flight come to mind for instance.

~Jon

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #20 on: 11/17/2013 12:22 AM »

1.  Ground testing does not qualify "demonstrated" for flight operations

2. Business arrangements that were never carried out do not qualify as proof.

Response to 1)  Ground tests is vacuum certainly qualify the hardware as a micro-g environment has no impact on that part of the operations.  Zero-g fluid transfer has been demonstrated on orbit numerous times since Shuttle started flying.  There was even a demonstration of a Coke machine transferring carbonated fluids so the physics and processes are understood.  No tech dev there.  Orbital Express demonstrated sat-to-sat fluid transfer.  ISS flight ops by GSFC has demonstrated end-to-end valve connection, fluid transfer, valve close-out.  TRL 9 Bub.  Learn before you post.

Response to 2)  Whether a business case closes was not the topic.  You stated that "It is magnitudes greater." in response to a question about "the cost difference between refueling a sat and moving a sat to a graveyard orbit is likely not that great ...".  Intelsat signed a contract with MDA for $280M to provide fuel to 5 existing satellites to extend their operational life by 5 years each.  That contract was a legally binding agreement.  Whether it was ultimately executed doesn't alter the value of the service being offered.  That $280M contract was for 25 years of cumulative operation for an average of $11.2M per year/per sat.  Intelsat generates between $50M and $100M in revenue per year per satellite or between $4M and $8M in revenue per month.  Executing a graveyard maneuver consumes between 2-3 months of station-keeping fuel equating representing $8M - $24M in revenue potential.  Thus refueling is not "orders of magnitude" greater cost than simply executing a GEO graveyard maneuver.  Learn before you post.  Think before you respond.

Besides, the challenge is not making the physical con

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #21 on: 11/17/2013 03:17 AM »

Response to 2)  Whether a business case closes was not the topic.  You stated that "It is magnitudes greater." in response to a question about "the cost difference between refueling a sat and moving a sat to a graveyard orbit is likely not that great ...".  Intelsat signed a contract with MDA for $280M to provide fuel to 5 existing satellites to extend their operational life by 5 years each.  That contract was a legally binding agreement.  Whether it was ultimately executed doesn't alter the value of the service being offered.  That $280M contract was for 25 years of cumulative operation for an average of $11.2M per year/per sat.  Intelsat generates between $50M and $100M in revenue per year per satellite or between $4M and $8M in revenue per month.  Executing a graveyard maneuver consumes between 2-3 months of station-keeping fuel equating representing $8M - $24M in revenue potential.  Thus refueling is not "orders of magnitude" greater cost than simply executing a GEO graveyard maneuver. 


Quite wrong.  A executed contract and closed business case are required to back up your assertions, otherwise they are just meaningless numbers.   The $280M was not validated.

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #22 on: 11/17/2013 03:20 AM »
  There was even a demonstration of a Coke machine transferring carbonated fluids


that didn't really work.  Know something before you post.  Anyways, the issue isn't fluid transfer. 
« Last Edit: 11/17/2013 03:40 AM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #23 on: 11/17/2013 03:37 AM »

1.  Yes, the technologies have been ground tested.  At MDA and at NASA.  NASA is flight testing those technologies on-orbit at ISS.

2.  No, it is not "magnitudes" greater.  Graveyarding costs 2-3 months of effective satellite revenue thus on the order of $10-$12M in lost revenue.  Prior business arrangement have shown that refueling is worth $10M-$12M per year of added life per satellite to an owner operator.

1.  Ground testing does not qualify "demonstrated" for flight operations

Jim... haven't you seen the Robotic Refueling Mission videos? They've been testing it on orbit on ISS on simulated task boards. That may not be TRL 9 yet, but that should count for something, even to a skeptic, shouldn't it?

Quote
2. Business arrangements that were never carried out do not qualify as proof.

While it is true that nobody has demonstrated the business case closes...isn't that true of even of successful business models before someone has made them work the first time? I agree there's room for *some* skepticism, particularly about timing and busines model closure at this point in time. But there's plenty of examples of technologies or business models that people thought of long before all the pieces were there to make them happen. Cars and heavier than air flight come to mind for instance.

~Jon

The issue I have is doing the refueling on spacecraft that were not design for it.  Look at all the times NASA serviced a spacecraft that was not design for it, there were always dimensional problems and the crew had to do workarounds.   

SMM - MMU/TPAD would not engage.  Ended up using RMS to grab spacecraft
HS 376 retrieval - Handling frame would not engage, crew had to hold on to spacecraft by omni antenna
Intelsat VI reboost - capture frame would not engage, 3 EVA crewmembers had to grab  spacecraft.

Offline a_langwich

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #24 on: 11/17/2013 06:27 AM »

Response to 2)  Whether a business case closes was not the topic.  You stated that "It is magnitudes greater." in response to a question about "the cost difference between refueling a sat and moving a sat to a graveyard orbit is likely not that great ...".  Intelsat signed a contract with MDA for $280M to provide fuel to 5 existing satellites to extend their operational life by 5 years each.  That contract was a legally binding agreement.  Whether it was ultimately executed doesn't alter the value of the service being offered.  That $280M contract was for 25 years of cumulative operation for an average of $11.2M per year/per sat.  Intelsat generates between $50M and $100M in revenue per year per satellite or between $4M and $8M in revenue per month.  Executing a graveyard maneuver consumes between 2-3 months of station-keeping fuel equating representing $8M - $24M in revenue potential.  Thus refueling is not "orders of magnitude" greater cost than simply executing a GEO graveyard maneuver.  Learn before you post.  Think before you respond.

Wait, what?  What, in those numbers, actually represents the cost of refueling a satellite?  None of it.  That's what Intelsat was willing to pay, which of course is driven by their revenue numbers and alternative costs.   

But that's not the cost to refuel a spacecraft, that's the price point you have to meet, that's what you WISH you could accomplish with margin for a profit.  The cost to you to refuel a spacecraft is what it costs to design and build the refueling satellite, plus the cost to launch the equipment, including your refueling device, the amount of fuel it will need to reach the graveyard orbit, and the amount of fuel it plans to load onto the disabled satellite.  And what Jim is saying, as I understand it,  is since nobody has actually done that, those costs are still hypothetical.

I'm not arguing for orders of magnitude difference in price, but in order for it to close right now, I suspect you'd need at least a half-dozen EOL satellites, with not too much deltaV separation between orbits, that can be refueled from one launch of your equipment.  And it better happen reasonably quickly, too, because your debt costs money and your personnel can't wait a decade before a payout.  And if Jim is right, and it turns out your vehicle was a flight test vehicle that gave you lots of lessons learned but failed to actually refuel a satellite, you and your investors will have to eat that  hundred million or two or three. 

And why compare against the cost to graveyard a satellite?  There is zero chance within the next fifty years that graveyarding could be avoided.  It seems foolish to risk debris exactly coincident with the orbit of your on-service location.  Maybe you could choose a different "hospital" orbit instead of a graveyard one, but there will still be significant fuel cost to reach it--and the size of that cost is proportional to the size of the safety buffer you've given your operational orbit.  Therefore, it seems to me that the end-of-life orbit maneuver cost happens whether you planned to service it or not. 

Comparison with replacement, as opposed to the cost of an end-of-life safing maneuver, makes more sense to me.

All of this discussion is barely relevant to DARPA Phoenix, which although "Service" is in the title seems to be more about "Salvage."  That is, re-using a dead satellite's parts to pimp your new satellite ride.

Offline baldusi

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #25 on: 11/17/2013 02:13 PM »
I need some help with the refueling system. In particular how do you handle pressurization? AIUI, the pressurization system is a High pressure bottle of He, a regulator and a membrane on the propellant tanks. The regulator and the membrane keeps the propellant at a given pressure. Now come the part I see as a problem.
If you try to pump fuel/oxidizer back into the tank, you'd push back the membrane and, since the regulator is usually also a one way valve, you'd compress the He behind the membrane, increasin dangerously the pressure on the whole system. Since the attitude and main engines are usually pressure fed, this brings lots and lots of issues.
You might then be able to purge the whole He system, fill the tanks, refill the He system. But then you'd have to do not only another fluid, but you'd have to somehow have a compressor (to 3000psi may be?). And this is assuming that they somehow can actually access and fill the He bottle.

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #26 on: 11/17/2013 02:22 PM »

SMM - MMU/TPAD would not engage.  Ended up using RMS to grab spacecraft
HS 376 retrieval - Handling frame would not engage, crew had to hold on to spacecraft by omni antenna
Intelsat VI reboost - capture frame would not engage, 3 EVA crewmembers had to grab  spacecraft.


SMM-MMU:  Fair statement, not every satellite is a candidate for servicing.  But putting a man in the middle of that effort introduces other considerations and constraints that without his presence, may have allowed a different approach to be more successful.  Wouldn't want to speculate though.

HS 376:  The actual capture went extremely well and showed that a capture mechanism designed to engage via the apogee engine works quite well.  Why you think failure of a storage device designed to hold the sat in the shuttle bay for return to earth constitutes a failure of on-orbit capture and servicing is beyond me.

Intelsat VI reboost:  And the lesson learned is not to design an overly complex solution to a simple problem.  The whole cross-bar solution was a stupid one.   Note that current approaches (DARPA OE, PHOENIX, MDA SIS) typically use one or more robotic arms with capture "hands" to capture the interface ring where an upper stage attaches.  Surprisingly, exactly how the STS-49 crew ultimately captured Intelsat VI.  Hardly a damning indictment of on-orbit servicing.  More a case of applying lessons learned.


Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #27 on: 11/17/2013 02:44 PM »

Wait, what?  What, in those numbers, actually represents the cost of refueling a satellite?  None of it.  That's what Intelsat was willing to pay, which of course is driven by their revenue numbers and alternative costs.   


And what MDA set the price at which they were willing to contractually sell the service for.  That price of course is driven by their business case which includes all of the costs you mentioned; i.e., what it costs to design and build the refueling satellite, the cost to launch the equipment, the amount of fuel it needs to reach client satellite, the fuel it uses to perform ARPO and capture,  the amount of fuel it plans to load onto the disabled satellite, the ground infrastructure costs to execute the mission, the insurance costs, taxes, interest, etc. such that at the end of the day, they actually realize a profit.

Quote

I'm not arguing for orders of magnitude difference in price, but in order for it to close right now, I suspect you'd need at least a half-dozen EOL satellites, with not too much deltaV separation between orbits, that can be refueled from one launch of your equipment.  And it better happen reasonably quickly, too, because your debt costs money and your personnel can't wait a decade before a payout.


Jim did argue for "orders of magnitude difference" and seems unwilling to retract that statement.  But that is not your point so let me respond.  Intelsat and MDA signed a contract for 5 satellites (plus a sixth to be used as the initial demonstration of the refuel capability) so yes, you need a half-dozen or so clients signed up to even consider executing a business case.  Rephasing from one sat to the next is not that delta-V intensive.  It depends on how far apart they are on the belt and how quickly you want to perform the phasing maneuver.  Given MDA was using an EP prop system to perform the phasing maneuvers, I suspect the timing was slow and the fuel use minimal.  Also, if you read up on the MDA approach, they were designed to refuel twice the number of sats that Intelsat actually settled for.  So presumably, MDA could refuel 10 satellites with a single servicer.  And who is to say that they couldn't then refuel themselves and continue operating for several years?

And from what I have gathered from several MDA presentations, they were expecting to launch within 3 years of signing the contract.  Problem is, they couldn't sell the other 5 refuel missions they had capacity for so didn't execute the contract.  Still doesn't alter the price that both the seller and the buyer were willing to pay for a refuel service which still isn't "orders of magnitude" greater than simply graveyarding a satellite at EOL.

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #28 on: 11/17/2013 02:59 PM »

HS 376:  The actual capture went extremely well and showed that a capture mechanism designed to engage via the apogee engine works quite well.  Why you think failure of a storage device designed to hold the sat in the shuttle bay for return to earth constitutes a failure of on-orbit capture and servicing is beyond me.

Intelsat VI reboost:  And the lesson learned is not to design an overly complex solution to a simple problem.  The whole cross-bar solution was a stupid one.   Note that current approaches (DARPA OE, PHOENIX, MDA SIS) typically use one or more robotic arms with capture "hands" to capture the interface ring where an upper stage attaches.  Surprisingly, exactly how the STS-49 crew ultimately captured Intelsat VI.  Hardly a damning indictment of on-orbit servicing.  More a case of applying lessons learned.


The issue isn't that on-orbit servicing or capture isn't feasible.  It is that interfaces (i.e prop and pressurant fill and drain valves) not designed for onorbit servicing will be problematic.

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #29 on: 11/18/2013 04:48 AM »

The issue isn't that on-orbit servicing or capture isn't feasible.  It is that interfaces (i.e prop and pressurant fill and drain valves) not designed for onorbit servicing will be problematic.
 

The folks at Goddard would likely disagree with that statement given the ISS testing they have performed.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #30 on: 11/18/2013 04:56 AM »
Problematic doesn't mean there isn't a solution, GuessWho.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #31 on: 11/20/2013 12:43 PM »
Problematic doesn't mean there isn't a solution, GuessWho.

Agreed.  Your point?

Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #32 on: 11/20/2013 02:58 PM »
The issue I have is doing the refueling on spacecraft that were not design for it.  Look at all the times NASA serviced a spacecraft that was not design for it, there were always dimensional problems and the crew had to do workarounds.   

SMM - MMU/TPAD would not engage.  Ended up using RMS to grab spacecraft
HS 376 retrieval - Handling frame would not engage, crew had to hold on to spacecraft by omni antenna
Intelsat VI reboost - capture frame would not engage, 3 EVA crewmembers had to grab  spacecraft.

Agreed, but in the case of refueling, most of the US-made satellites have valves that come from one or two manufacturers (VACCO is one of them), and they know *exactly* what valve is on what craft. And Goddard has demonstrated tools that can accommodate differences. And you're talking to a guy who's working explicitly in the non-cooperative capture world (though we're nowhere near the experts yet). From what I've seen from work DARPA/NRL, GSFC, ATK, and MDA are doing, I think they've seen the same past problems you have, and have been working to make sure they aren't repeated.

~Jon

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #33 on: 11/20/2013 03:14 PM »
I have seen access problems during loading on the ground.

Offline a_langwich

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #34 on: 11/21/2013 06:25 AM »

Wait, what?  What, in those numbers, actually represents the cost of refueling a satellite?  None of it.  That's what Intelsat was willing to pay, which of course is driven by their revenue numbers and alternative costs.   


And what MDA set the price at which they were willing to contractually sell the service for.  That price of course is driven by their business case which includes all of the costs you mentioned; i.e., what it costs to design and build the refueling satellite, the cost to launch the equipment, the amount of fuel it needs to reach client satellite, the fuel it uses to perform ARPO and capture,  the amount of fuel it plans to load onto the disabled satellite, the ground infrastructure costs to execute the mission, the insurance costs, taxes, interest, etc. such that at the end of the day, they actually realize a profit.


This gets back to what Jim said about not being validated.  Unless you happened to work the numbers at MDA for the proposal, you can't assume that price included a profit or break-even.  And it sounds like, even there, they HAD to have five other servicings to make the business case close.  Do you know how much revenue they depended on the second five to bring in?  Maybe they gave an extra-super-sweetheart deal to Intelsat, hoping a reputable anchor customer would bring in others.  Maybe they were willing to eat the development cost or even some of the build and launch costs, if the market could be shown to be large enough to recoup costs later.  See, for example, SpaceX's initial launches on Falcon 1, 9, and 9 v1.1.

You keep bringing up this firm contract but it must have had some large holes that allowed them to walk away without executing it. 

This raises again the question of deltaV and/or market size--they found five in a plane, maybe, or energetically nearby, but didn't find ten.  You say, "See:  it was easy.  They found five."  I say, "They didn't find ten, which apparently they had to have to purchase a launch."  Maybe they exhausted all the possibilities within reach?  Or maybe they realized they weren't going to get anywhere near their cost target for the vehicle?  Or, maybe they realized the market demand was not enough to support not just their pricing but any reasonable price, at the present.  Bottom line, you can't say it works at this price, when something clearly did NOT work.

Quote from: a_langwich
I'm not arguing for orders of magnitude difference in price, but in order for it to close right now, I suspect you'd need at least a half-dozen EOL satellites, with not too much deltaV separation between orbits, that can be refueled from one launch of your equipment.  And it better happen reasonably quickly, too, because your debt costs money and your personnel can't wait a decade before a payout.


Jim did argue for "orders of magnitude difference" and seems unwilling to retract that statement.  But that is not your point so let me respond.  Intelsat and MDA signed a contract for 5 satellites (plus a sixth to be used as the initial demonstration of the refuel capability) so yes, you need a half-dozen or so clients signed up to even consider executing a business case.  Rephasing from one sat to the next is not that delta-V intensive.  It depends on how far apart they are on the belt and how quickly you want to perform the phasing maneuver.  Given MDA was using an EP prop system to perform the phasing maneuvers, I suspect the timing was slow and the fuel use minimal.  Also, if you read up on the MDA approach, they were designed to refuel twice the number of sats that Intelsat actually settled for.  So presumably, MDA could refuel 10 satellites with a single servicer.  And who is to say that they couldn't then refuel themselves and continue operating for several years?

And from what I have gathered from several MDA presentations, they were expecting to launch within 3 years of signing the contract.  Problem is, they couldn't sell the other 5 refuel missions they had capacity for so didn't execute the contract.  Still doesn't alter the price that both the seller and the buyer were willing to pay for a refuel service which still isn't "orders of magnitude" greater than simply graveyarding a satellite at EOL.

If they didn't execute the contract, then they clearly couldn't make it on just the 5+1 sold to Intelsat.  So it sounds like 10 was the magic number.

And yes, of course they could refuel and keep going.  For the cost of another launch.  And yes, they could launch as a secondary.  For the cost of designing another vehicle that has the deltaV and guidance to get the fuel from wherever they get dropped as a secondary to their refueling spacecraft's location.  And both vehicles have to support a rendezvous and fuel transfer.  Refueling is not going to be cheap and easy, it is going to be a very substantial fraction of the cost of the original mission, where crunching the actual numbers would tell you whether it is worthwhile.  (What costs of the original refueling mission are avoided by a refueling mission to the refueler?)

All of this, oddly, ignores the risk of not being able to get it working on the first go, which is substantial I think.  That is, for most "next greatest thing" ideas, IF you stipulate that you can get it to work, the capability is a guaranteed money-maker.  For this idea, we've been stipulating that it works, and the business case is STILL arguable.  That ain't good.

Wandering off-topic...the Iridium satellites, and I suppose other relay satellite systems, have a fair amount of satellite-to-satellite communication built in.  If you beefed this up, I wonder if you could build multiple satellites that could coordinate spot beams and operate in the same orbital slot?  They would need not only to communicate with each other, but have the capacity to maintain position relative to each other.  Talk about redundancy.  EMC might be an issue, though.

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #35 on: 11/22/2013 02:38 PM »
First, let me say these are good questions.  I will attempt to respond but quite frankly we are quickly reaching the point where this is not the right forum to discuss as the subject matter is very wide and very deep and one or two paragraph statements can't begin to address the issues involved.


This gets back to what Jim said about not being validated.  Unless you happened to work the numbers at MDA for the proposal, you can't assume that price included a profit or break-even.  And it sounds like, even there, they HAD to have five other servicings to make the business case close.  Do you know how much revenue they depended on the second five to bring in?


Clearly only someone from MDA could answer the specifics of their business case and I doubt they would do that in a public forum.  First off, I am not associated with MDA so I can't speak to their business case.  That said, I have worked a similar business case for a client in the not so distant past.  That business case did close with a respectable profit after an acceptable period of time given the client's overall risk posture.  I wouldn't assume that MDA HAD to have the other five missions to close their business case.  It may have broke even at 5, yielded a slight profit after 7 but not enough to convince their Board that it was worth the risk, and was very attractive at 10 missions.  It comes down to their investment risk posture, aggressive for income growth or more conservative to ensure steady, more predictable returns to their shareholders.

Quote

You keep bringing up this firm contract but it must have had some large holes that allowed them to walk away without executing it. 

This raises again the question of deltaV and/or market size--they found five in a plane, maybe, or energetically nearby, but didn't find ten.  You say, "See:  it was easy.  They found five."  I say, "They didn't find ten, which apparently they had to have to purchase a launch." 


Intelsat would pay upon services rendered so there is likely no penalty if MDA had to cancel early in the project.  Once Intelsat started to make financial commitments (i.e. cap-ex related) based upon a reasonable expectation of services being rendered, there would be penalties put in place.  But that is all standard contract stuff that would have been negotiated upfront so I don't see that as an issue.

Intelsat has 50+ satellites at GEO and they are only one of several comsat owner/operators.  So there are a significant number of potential clients in GEO.  And energetically, it is only a few m/s to a few 10's of m/s to get to just about any GEO satellite up there unless they are significantly inclined so delta-V is not the issue at GEO.  What is most significant about the MDA/Intelsat deal is that for the first time a buyer and a seller agreed upon what the financial value of a refuel mission was.  Prior to that, anyone contemplating a on-orbit service offer could only speculate about what a potential buyer might pay and base their business case on that assumption.  The fact that Intelsat stepped up and put a value to a kg of fuel or an additional year of operation is huge.  It set a millstone about which all other offers could assess their market assumptions.  For MDA, apparently a $11-$12M/year of added life was sufficient to close their business case.  From my own work, I actually had that type of service valued about 25% lower given the level of conservatism I injected while closing the business case for my client.  That likely means my other assumptions across the board are also one the low side relative to market value and thus makes the business case more attractive.  Conversely, if someone is out there thinking the value of that service was closer to $30M/yr, they need to go back and rethink their approach as it is unlikely that the market will bear their price point.

Quote
Maybe they exhausted all the possibilities within reach?  Or maybe they realized they weren't going to get anywhere near their cost target for the vehicle?  Or, maybe they realized the market demand was not enough to support not just their pricing but any reasonable price, at the present.  Bottom line, you can't say it works at this price, when something clearly did NOT work.


And you can't sit back and speculate about the viability of someone else's business case without having taken the time to actually run one to ground.  That is my issue with Jim's off the cuff and frankly ill-informed comment.  I performed due diligence for my client for two years, building the business case, surveying the market to understand size, value, timing, risks, legal and policy requirements and hurdles, etc.  All these factors go into the business case assessment.  That is weighed against the financial goals of the client, their risk posture, their business climate, their shareholder's expectations, etc.  For my client, the business case was attractive.  It was not the financial side of the equation, but the complete lack of coherent US policy regarding operations within space and the regulatory risks that would flow from that led to the decision not to execute the business plan.

Quote
All of this, oddly, ignores the risk of not being able to get it working on the first go, which is substantial I think.


That is what insurance is for.  You insure the loss of vehicle and you insure the loss of potential revenue, up to a point.  It all comes down to what you can negotiate with your insurance underwriters (at a premium structure that works for both parties) who in turn have to be convinced about the viability of your overall business case.  MDA had a signed insurance group on board so they must have convinced them that their business case had merit.  My client did as well.  Bigger issue is third-party liability.  There is absolutely no US or international law that even begins to address that subject when it comes to space servicing or even on-orbit debris mitigation.  That "unknown" dwarfs all other considerations.

Offline watermod

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #36 on: 11/23/2013 03:21 AM »
At the bottom of page 2 of the "Economics of Repurposing in situ retired spacecraft components" paper assembly in space to build very large apertures for RF and optical systems is mentioned. This relates to something I had been wondering about lately. Taken to the extreme, might three huge antennas with appropriate electronics, built in GEO, be able to replace cell phone towers by allowing 2 way comm with existing cellphones directly?
 That would be what - a trillion dollar business?

CELLULAR:
Xerox Parc put it best in the late 80s and early 90s

     bandwidth / the population of earth = bits/sec per person

There are some 7 billion people on this world so that Tesla style solution doesn't work.
    with your 3 antennas canted to service 3 spherical triangles from on high and maybe covering 1/3 of the earth the best you get is:
    1 cell size of 3 (antennas or sectors) * 3 sats to cover the earth *bandwidth/7 billion people

You want lots of cells... micro-cells in urban areas larger narrow long cells on transit routes (so you don't hand off so much - esp with things like high speed trains racing through cells... so you have long narrow cells on the tracks enabled with leaky coaxial cable the full length of the tracks)  You want multi-spectrum, you want robustness in handoffs (hence the CDMA scheme with its soft and softer handoffs).   

Since Xerox Parc didn't happen but was schematically the cleanest concept we can discuss their drivers without ruining functional IP in use today.  Xerox Parc wanted to do it with a staged system with cheap cellphones.  Theirs were not RF but IR.   They envisioned fiber going street light to street light with IR LEDS and to/from IR cells and lasers or tight beam IR to the house with IR base stations all over inside your home or business.  Your car would have had IR to your phone connected to a radio based cellphone in the car.  The reason for that is if you had to hand off to each IR LED base station every 30 feet or so at auto speeds you would spend all your bandwidth handing off so you need to drop down in frequency to radio waves and take advantage of their greater cell size.  This would allow using cells for rural and transit routes.  Note how cheap this made cellphones.   A basic one only needed the LED/Photo Transistor in your TV remote and electronic of similar complexity.   They envisioned early 1990's costs of 50 cents a phone.     Obviously we went a much more complex direction but the underlying system is trying to enable the same solution to the formula by making cell size very small

   (time multiplicative factor {not allowing each user total time} * maximized cell count *  maximize sectors per cells * max frequency per cell )/ (Population of earth  * devices per individual )

It becomes obvious you don't want to go up to a few satellites except, possibly, for inter-regional backhaul in rural or remote areas.
 
The next level up from doing it Xerox's way and retro fit what we had would have been to have micro cell sites in every cable tv box or DSL modem.   That would have made the governments (all levels) in the USA very unhappy as they earn huge revenues on the large tariffs on backbone lines like T1s, E1s and higher speed currently required to service cell sites.    The IR light is unlicensed spectrum which would deprive governments of the billions of dollars received selling licensed spectrum.   

The sneaker way to do it would be to hand off to WiFi when available.   The Telcos and Government have revenue reasons not to make this a feature. 

Cellular is the way it is currently for political reasons and at the beginning for the desire of manufacturers to sell Big-Iron multi-billion dollar infrastructure to Telcos.   

Iridium and it's ilk have their niche as they have a multi-digit N sats and sectorization and time slots and large spectrum but it can never be a cellular system for the masses just one to serve remote areas and elites.





   

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #37 on: 11/23/2013 04:42 AM »
At the bottom of page 2 of the "Economics of Repurposing in situ retired spacecraft components" paper assembly in space to build very large apertures for RF and optical systems is mentioned. This relates to something I had been wondering about lately. Taken to the extreme, might three huge antennas with appropriate electronics, built in GEO, be able to replace cell phone towers by allowing 2 way comm with existing cellphones directly?
 That would be what - a trillion dollar business?

CELLULAR:
Xerox Parc put it best in the late 80s and early 90s

     bandwidth / the population of earth = bits/sec per person

There are some 7 billion people on this world so that Tesla style solution doesn't work.
    with your 3 antennas canted to service 3 spherical triangles from on high and maybe covering 1/3 of the earth the best you get is:
    1 cell size of 3 (antennas or sectors) * 3 sats to cover the earth *bandwidth/7 billion people

You want lots of cells... micro-cells in urban areas larger narrow long cells on transit routes (so you don't hand off so much - esp with things like high speed trains racing through cells... so you have long narrow cells on the tracks enabled with leaky coaxial cable the full length of the tracks)  You want multi-spectrum, you want robustness in handoffs (hence the CDMA scheme with its soft and softer handoffs).

I agree with you on this part.  Lots of cells means lower transmit power (longer battery life) and less interference between devices.

Since Xerox Parc didn't happen but was schematically the cleanest concept we can discuss their drivers without ruining functional IP in use today.  Xerox Parc wanted to do it with a staged system with cheap cellphones.  Theirs were not RF but IR.   They envisioned fiber going street light to street light with IR LEDS and to/from IR cells and lasers or tight beam IR to the house with IR base stations all over inside your home or business.  Your car would have had IR to your phone connected to a radio based cellphone in the car.  The reason for that is if you had to hand off to each IR LED base station every 30 feet or so at auto speeds you would spend all your bandwidth handing off so you need to drop down in frequency to radio waves and take advantage of their greater cell size.  This would allow using cells for rural and transit routes.  Note how cheap this made cellphones.   A basic one only needed the LED/Photo Transistor in your TV remote and electronic of similar complexity.   They envisioned early 1990's costs of 50 cents a phone.     Obviously we went a much more complex direction but the underlying system is trying to enable the same solution to the formula by making cell size very small

Thank goodness we didn't go with this IR system!  There are many ways in which it's inferior to the system we have.  IR is line-of-sight, so you need base stations everywhere indoors to make it work.  The phones would be dirt cheap, but the infrastructure astronomically expensive to cover every part of every room.  And then what happens if you put your phone in your pocket?  You can't receive a call (or a text or an e-mail message).  The same thing happens if the room is crowded and someone happens to be between you and each of the base stations in the room.

   (time multiplicative factor {not allowing each user total time} * maximized cell count *  maximize sectors per cells * max frequency per cell )/ (Population of earth  * devices per individual )

It becomes obvious you don't want to go up to a few satellites except, possibly, for inter-regional backhaul in rural or remote areas.
 
The next level up from doing it Xerox's way and retro fit what we had would have been to have micro cell sites in every cable tv box or DSL modem.   That would have made the governments (all levels) in the USA very unhappy as they earn huge revenues on the large tariffs on backbone lines like T1s, E1s and higher speed currently required to service cell sites.

Sorry, but that's nonsense.  Voice and data traffic through cable modems and DSL modems goes through exactly the same backbone lines.

Anyway, there's no reason to believe the people making the telecom regulations care at all about how much revenue the government gets from it.  It doesn't affect how much money their organizations get, it goes to general Treasury accounts.  If Congress cared, they could as easily assess fees on IR systems, cable modems, whatever they wanted to.

The carriers are the only ones who would care, and only to the extent it derives them of revenue.  So the carriers could conceivably exert political pressure to get the government to tilt the rules against femptocells.  But, there's no evidence they did.  The government wasn't really involved one way or another.  The carriers were slow to adopt it, and it wouldn't work on people's cell phones unless the carriers agreed, so the carriers made it more difficult.  But recently some carriers have been moving in the direction of supporting femptocells.

The IR light is unlicensed spectrum which would deprive governments of the billions of dollars received selling licensed spectrum.

First of all, the government didn't do anything to discourage IR systems.  Anyone who wanted to could have built them.  If anything, the government favored IR systems by charging carriers lots for radio spectrum but leaving IR unlicensed.

Secondly, the government getting revenue from the RF spectrum is not a motivation for the government to promote RF over IR because the government could simply decide to start licensing the IR systems and charging the IR system carriers however much the government wanted.

The sneaker way to do it would be to hand off to WiFi when available.   The Telcos and Government have revenue reasons not to make this a feature. 

Again, only the carriers (telco companies) have any incentive not to enable WiFi hand-off, not the government.  And the carriers, while initially opposing WiFi hand-off have started moving in that direction recently, since they've realized most of their customers are on unlimited plans these days, so they don't get more money per minute of celluar use, so handing them off to WiFi doesn't decrease revenue at all but instead reduces costs because fewer calls go through the carrier's cellular network.

Cellular is the way it is currently for political reasons and at the beginning for the desire of manufacturers to sell Big-Iron multi-billion dollar infrastructure to Telcos.

I think it's more accurate to say cellular is the way it is largely because it's more efficient than most of the alternatives, though, as you correctly point out, more use of WiFi hand-off and femptocells would improve efficiency even more -- and the industry has been moving in that direction recently.

Iridium and it's ilk have their niche as they have a multi-digit N sats and sectorization and time slots and large spectrum but it can never be a cellular system for the masses just one to serve remote areas and elites.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #38 on: 11/23/2013 04:57 AM »
The next level up from doing it Xerox's way and retro fit what we had would have been to have micro cell sites in every cable tv box or DSL modem.   That would have made the governments (all levels) in the USA very unhappy as they earn huge revenues on the large tariffs on backbone lines like T1s, E1s and higher speed currently required to service cell sites.

Sorry, but that's nonsense.  Voice and data traffic through cable modems and DSL modems goes through exactly the same backbone lines.

Anyway, there's no reason to believe the people making the telecom regulations care at all about how much revenue the government gets from it.  It doesn't affect how much money their organizations get, it goes to general Treasury accounts.  If Congress cared, they could as easily assess fees on IR systems, cable modems, whatever they wanted to.

The carriers are the only ones who would care, and only to the extent it derives them of revenue.  So the carriers could conceivably exert political pressure to get the government to tilt the rules against femptocells.  But, there's no evidence they did.  The government wasn't really involved one way or another.  The carriers were slow to adopt it, and it wouldn't work on people's cell phones unless the carriers agreed, so the carriers made it more difficult.  But recently some carriers have been moving in the direction of supporting femptocells.



The sneaker way to do it would be to hand off to WiFi when available.   The Telcos and Government have revenue reasons not to make this a feature. 

Again, only the carriers (telco companies) have any incentive not to enable WiFi hand-off, not the government.  And the carriers, while initially opposing WiFi hand-off have started moving in that direction recently, since they've realized most of their customers are on unlimited plans these days, so they don't get more money per minute of celluar use, so handing them off to WiFi doesn't decrease revenue at all but instead reduces costs because fewer calls go through the carrier's cellular network.

By the way, it's worth noting that both WiFi and femptocells have huge technical challenges in terms of quality of service.  If you've used both Skype over WiFi and cell phones, you will have noticed Skype isn't nearly as reliable as cell phones -- sometimes the audio cuts out and sometimes there's a dropped call.  In years past, Skype and similar home VoIP services were much worse.  That's all because cell phone networks were built from the ground up to have hard real-time constraints on data transmission through every part of the network.  Home routers, WiFi, cable modems, etc. were not originally built for that, so packets can be delayed or dropped, particularly when there's other traffic.  In recent years, more of those other components have started supporting prioritization of certain traffic, and overall bandwidth and latency have improved enough that most of the time voice calling is fine.  But cellular companies have had a legitimate reason to worry about customer complaints about poor service because of things like old DSL modems and cheap or mis-configured home WiFi routers that are out of the control of the carriers.

I have a friend with a PhD in electrical engineering who tried to use a femptocell provided by his cellular carrier on his home network.  He was only able to get it to work erratically, in spite of a long time on the phone with the carrier's tech support and a lot of knowledge of networking.

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Offline watermod

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #41 on: 11/23/2013 03:40 PM »
I have a friend with a PhD in electrical engineering who tried to use a femptocell provided by his cellular carrier on his home network.  He was only able to get it to work erratically, in spite of a long time on the phone with the carrier's tech support and a lot of knowledge of networking.

Chris Wilson.  I beg to differ with you and have responded in detail with a private message.
As to the small portable cells...  co-workers (friends) took several to NY the day of 911, on a special flight.  They modified them while in route to look for cellphones at the WTC so I know in detail what I am talking about. (Unfortunately they found working phones and no people) I also know all on the team that designed the first small cells. Perhaps the cell your PHD friend played with was not designed and made  to quality stds?



Offline kevin-rf

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #42 on: 11/24/2013 01:23 AM »
The femto cell in my house works great. It all depends on the quality of the internet connection.

It has always annoyed me that that indoor public areas like malls and stores that get poor service aren't more proactive in setting them up. 
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Offline a_langwich

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #43 on: 11/25/2013 05:26 AM »

Maybe they exhausted all the possibilities within reach?  Or maybe they realized they weren't going to get anywhere near their cost target for the vehicle?  Or, maybe they realized the market demand was not enough to support not just their pricing but any reasonable price, at the present.  Bottom line, you can't say it works at this price, when something clearly did NOT work.


And you can't sit back and speculate about the viability of someone else's business case without having taken the time to actually run one to ground.  That is my issue with Jim's off the cuff and frankly ill-informed comment.  I performed due diligence for my client for two years, building the business case, surveying the market to understand size, value, timing, risks, legal and policy requirements and hurdles, etc.  All these factors go into the business case assessment.  That is weighed against the financial goals of the client, their risk posture, their business climate, their shareholder's expectations, etc.  For my client, the business case was attractive.

Actually, I can sit back and speculate on the viability of someone else's business case without having run one to ground myself.  For example, I can laugh at someone's business case selling snow cones on Mars in the next ten years, and so would you.  I'm guessing you mean that this particular business case is close enough that such a snap judgment is not possible?  Possibly so.

Still, while I am mildly skeptical about the business case for space salvage in general, I didn't say MDA's business case was bad here.  I merely pointed out the business did not work (maybe yet, I don't know):  no hardware in orbit, no satellite refueled, no money changing hands.  Maybe the business case was sound, and their implementation choices didn't close.  Or maybe, as you point out, the business case was sound for a company with a different posture toward risk, or even just a different vision toward company direction.  I don't know.  I do know that you can't use them as proof that the business case closes, because there was no execution to validate the handwavings.  There's a lot more credibility that it got as far as it did, but still no carrot yet.  The actual cost to do something that's never been done before is the point of contention, I think.


Quote
It was not the financial side of the equation, but the complete lack of coherent US policy regarding operations within space and the regulatory risks that would flow from that led to the decision not to execute the business plan.

What regulatory risks were you/client worried about?  For MDA, they are servicing satellites which their customer owns, so no questions about ownership there.  Debris liberated during servicing causing a problem?  This shouldn't be a large factor for GEO, right?  Explosions or some other accident causing some risk to other satellites?  All of the risks to MDA with respect to the Intelsat satellites could be handled inside the terms of the contract, right?  Or did the business case require Russian or Chinese launches, or offshore tax havens, which might fall afoul of ITAR?

Offline GuessWho

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #44 on: 11/25/2013 12:10 PM »

What regulatory risks were you/client worried about?  For MDA, they are servicing satellites which their customer owns, so no questions about ownership there.  Debris liberated during servicing causing a problem?  This shouldn't be a large factor for GEO, right?  Explosions or some other accident causing some risk to other satellites?  All of the risks to MDA with respect to the Intelsat satellites could be handled inside the terms of the contract, right?  Or did the business case require Russian or Chinese launches, or offshore tax havens, which might fall afoul of ITAR?


Correct, the client owns the satellite but in the event of an incident that causes debris, that debris has the potential to impact neighboring satellites owned by different commercial companies or state governments.  And on the longer time scale, even satellites farther around the belt can be directly impacted just given orbital dynamics so you are putting a $100B/year industry at risk.  GEO is a very valuable piece of real estate to put it mildly.  So who is legally liable if damage to a third party occurs?  The nation state where the servicer operates from or who originally licensed it?  The nation state which launched the servicer?  The nation state that built the servicer?  The nation state where the servicing company is incorporated?  According to existing international policy, all of the above.  How is the claim handled?  According to existing international policy, only nation states can file a claim but the resolution of the claim is handled by individual nation states existing laws.  So of the potential four nation states involved, whose laws will apply?  The US has no specific laws in place but the US is far and away beyond anyone else in that regard given its leadership position in space.  Does it default to the US then?  How do you determine whether the original incident is what caused a failure on another satellite six months later?  Different nation states have varying capability to track orbital debris, particularly at GEO.  The US has far and away the best catalog of debris but even that is incomplete as it relies on other nations to fully disclose what they have put up and of that, what is operational and what is defunct.  Historically, the Russians haven't been particularly forth-coming in that regard and the Chinese are even less so now (albeit they haven't put all that much up yet that we know of).  Finally, what precedents have been established upon which to rule on a given claim?  Hint, there are none.  That makes the legal issues even more uncertain.

Offline robertross

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #45 on: 12/10/2013 03:16 PM »
That would be cool to see.

Here are a few resources that have been approved for public release:
http://ssco.gsfc.nasa.gov/workshop_2012/Barnhart_final_presentation_2012_workshop.pdf
...
~Jon

Thanks Jon.

Sorry for being late to respond, but I had to find time to get into them first. Some fascinating reading; still more to go through.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #46 on: 12/11/2013 08:23 PM »
At the bottom of page 2 of the "Economics of Repurposing in situ retired spacecraft components" paper assembly in space to build very large apertures for RF and optical systems is mentioned. This relates to something I had been wondering about lately. Taken to the extreme, might three huge antennas with appropriate electronics, built in GEO, be able to replace cell phone towers by allowing 2 way comm with existing cellphones directly?
 That would be what - a trillion dollar business?

CELLULAR:
Xerox Parc put it best in the late 80s and early 90s

     bandwidth / the population of earth = bits/sec per person

There are some 7 billion people on this world so that Tesla style solution doesn't work.
    with your 3 antennas canted to service 3 spherical triangles from on high and maybe covering 1/3 of the earth the best you get is:
    1 cell size of 3 (antennas or sectors) * 3 sats to cover the earth *bandwidth/7 billion people

You want lots of cells...

Thanks for that response and sorry I didn't see it sooner. My understanding of this subject is quite limited so I hope you'll indulge me but I had in mind many cells, not just three. A huge antenna would be able to transmit and receive using spot beams that cover an area little bigger than the area a cell tower covers might it? If so, wouldn't the bandwidth issue be no different from what current cell phones have?

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #47 on: 12/11/2013 08:59 PM »

Thanks for that response and sorry I didn't see it sooner. My understanding of this subject is quite limited so I hope you'll indulge me but I had in mind many cells, not just three. A huge antenna would be able to transmit and receive using spot beams that cover an area little bigger than the area a cell tower covers might it? If so, wouldn't the bandwidth issue be no different from what current cell phones have?

So you are going to put almost over 2 million transmitters and receivers on the antenna to create all the necessary  spot beams?
« Last Edit: 12/11/2013 09:00 PM by Jim »

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #48 on: 12/14/2013 12:14 AM »

Thanks for that response and sorry I didn't see it sooner. My understanding of this subject is quite limited so I hope you'll indulge me but I had in mind many cells, not just three. A huge antenna would be able to transmit and receive using spot beams that cover an area little bigger than the area a cell tower covers might it? If so, wouldn't the bandwidth issue be no different from what current cell phones have?

So you are going to put almost over 2 million transmitters and receivers on the antenna to create all the necessary  spot beams?

Well actually yes.
The idea already requires a two mile diameter antenna after all. Given its scale it would seem that there would be room for millions of transceivers at the focal area particularly if the order for them lead to development of an a system optimized for the purpose.
The payoff is potentially vast and it sure could lead to an increase in the number of launches.
As I understand it the signal latency means about 500 milliseconds for interactive communication so the idea is probably not viable for that, but it does have the advantage of complete coverage including for ships and planes.
While bad for gaming, text, voice and web surfing might be enough to make it worthwhile.
 

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #49 on: 12/14/2013 12:38 AM »
As I understand it the signal latency means about 500 milliseconds for interactive communication so the idea is probably not viable for that, but it does have the advantage of complete coverage including for ships and planes.
While bad for gaming, text, voice and web surfing might be enough to make it worthwhile.

The wording of your last sentence makes it unclear which of gaming, text, voice, and web surfing you think it would be bad for and which you think it might work for.

It's definitely too much latency to replace local cells for voice calls.  That much latency is very noticeable.  That's one of the reasons Iridium and its competitors use LEO satellites.

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #50 on: 12/15/2013 10:55 PM »
As I understand it the signal latency means about 500 milliseconds for interactive communication so the idea is probably not viable for that, but it does have the advantage of complete coverage including for ships and planes.
While bad for gaming, text, voice and web surfing might be enough to make it worthwhile.

The wording of your last sentence makes it unclear which of gaming, text, voice, and web surfing you think it would be bad for and which you think it might work for.

It's definitely too much latency to replace local cells for voice calls.  That much latency is very noticeable.  That's one of the reasons Iridium and its competitors use LEO satellites.

Sorry to be unclear - I meant just gaming but take your point about voice.
I wonder if a world wide wi-fi with text and data might be a business model.
High speed connection anywhere.
People are using text more often than voice it seems to me, so the lag may be less of a problem now than when Iridium started.

Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #51 on: 12/16/2013 03:26 PM »

Well actually yes.
The idea already requires a two mile diameter antenna after all. Given its scale it would seem that there would be room for millions of transceivers at the focal area particularly if the order for them lead to development of an a system optimized for the purpose.
The payoff is potentially vast and it sure could lead to an increase in the number of launches.
As I understand it the signal latency means about 500 milliseconds for interactive communication so the idea is probably not viable for that, but it does have the advantage of complete coverage including for ships and planes.
While bad for gaming, text, voice and web surfing might be enough to make it worthwhile.
 
Think about it, hard for once.
there is no payoff, it is nonviable

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #52 on: 12/17/2013 08:28 PM »

Well actually yes.
The idea already requires a two mile diameter antenna after all. Given its scale it would seem that there would be room for millions of transceivers at the focal area particularly if the order for them lead to development of an a system optimized for the purpose.
The payoff is potentially vast and it sure could lead to an increase in the number of launches.
As I understand it the signal latency means about 500 milliseconds for interactive communication so the idea is probably not viable for that, but it does have the advantage of complete coverage including for ships and planes.
While bad for gaming, text, voice and web surfing might be enough to make it worthwhile.
 
Think about it, hard for once.
there is no payoff, it is nonviable

 Could you be more specific?

To be honest , this idea is so far out of my already limited knowledge base that I'm just havin' fun asking the question "What could you use a huge antenna in GEO for?

One possibility might be microwave power transmission from surface to GEO relay antenna to surface for support in disasters and for military uses.

BTW the requisite diameter is probably much less than my WAG of 2 miles and only a fraction of that area need be filled to get the desired resolution (I think). If assume 200 ft^2/kg. and coverage of roughly 10% of the roughly 3 mi.^2 aperture of the 2 mi. dia. antenna then about 9 million ft.^2 then 45,00 kg. required for aperture mass. A smaller antenna would reduce this further. This is only 9 or 10 launches maybe?

Obviously the 2 million transmitters and receivers are going to have considerable mass and for the idea to be viable, serious effort would have to be made to reduce that, if indeed physics allows improvement to the needed extent. 

One advantage of this idea is that the infrastructure of ROTV's and assembly bots is left behind and the owners will likely want to figure a way to make some more money with that.

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #53 on: 12/17/2013 08:30 PM »

Obviously the 2 million transmitters and receivers are going to have considerable mass and for the idea to be viable, serious effort would have to be made to reduce that, if indeed physics allows improvement to the needed extent. 


Integration of them is the show stopper.

Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #54 on: 12/17/2013 08:39 PM »
Hey guys, could we take hypothetical discussions of some 2million transmitter GEO satellites somewhere else? There has been almost nothing on this thread about the actual DARPA Phoenix program for some time now.

~Jon

Offline Solman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #55 on: 12/18/2013 01:16 AM »
Hey guys, could we take hypothetical discussions of some 2million transmitter GEO satellites somewhere else? There has been almost nothing on this thread about the actual DARPA Phoenix program for some time now.

~Jon

I take your point but the discussion came directly from the bottom of page 2 of the "Economics of Repurposing In situ Retired Spacecraft Components" paper in which assembly in space to build very large apertures for RF and optical systems using Phoenix developed assembly bots is suggested.

In terms of repurposing, one possibility might be to use dead sats collected and connected by Phoenix developed assembly bots as a counterweight for a tether for a large aperture antenna. A tether extending from say a million pounds of retired sats above GEO altitude to a 20,000 lb.(?) antenna assembled from launched components maybe 4000 miles up, would result in both a reduction in latency by a factor of about five and in required size of the antenna for use as a cellular network by a factor of about 25. The tether would have to be launched, and if say it is 25,000 miles long, would tip the scales at a million pounds even if only 40 lbs./mi. though, which is a drawback. Because the tether terminates at say 4000 miles up, the stresses may be within today's material limits without tapering. Power could perhaps be beamed via microwaves from the ground.
Admittedly 2 million or more transmitters/receivers are still required.
Alternately or perhaps simultaneously, such a system may be useful for microwave power relay.
 


Offline catdlr

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #56 on: 04/24/2014 09:51 PM »
On-Orbit Satellite Builds: DARPA Phoenix Project Animation

Published on Apr 24, 2014
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) multi-faceted project (satellite recycling, repair, construction) is looking to reduce the cost of geosynchronous orbit satellites, with 'Satlets'.

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Blackstar

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #57 on: 04/25/2014 09:02 PM »
I have heard hints of the strong possibility that this project will undergo some major restructuring soon and might even get canceled. Nothing more specific.

Offline Danderman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #58 on: 06/05/2014 02:54 AM »
Whatever happened to this program?

Offline savuporo

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #59 on: 06/05/2014 03:10 AM »
Well, http://www.spacenews.com/article/features/40695spotlight-novawurks
May 26th, 2014
Quote
Even as DARPA and U.S. military officials contemplate the future direction of the Phoenix program, DARPA officials see a role for satlets.

“As part of the risk reduction activities going forward for the Phoenix project through 2015, DARPA is planning on a flight experiment to validate the satlet concept in low Earth orbit,” said David Barnhart, DARPA’s Phoenix program manager. “This experiment would allow the concept of cellularized, pre-aggregated satlets to go through a series of tests to validate attitude control, power control, processing system and telemetry system handoff and thermal management on orbit.”

I think Barnhart was a speaker on http://www.satellite2014.com/postshow/ but i'm not sure if any proceedings or presentations are available.

Also, funding for Phoenix was FY13 $40M, FY14 $60M and FY15 includes $65M. This is from the public DARPA funding request published in March 2014
 
From funding request:
Quote
Description: To date, servicing operations have never been conducted on spacecraft beyond low earth orbit (LEO). A large number of national security and commercial space systems operate at geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) altitudes, furthermore, many end-of-life or failed spacecraft drift without control through portions of the GEO belt, creating a growing hazard to operational spacecraft. Technologies for servicing of spacecraft with the expectation that such servicing would involve a mix of highly autonomous and remotely (i.e., ground-based) teleoperated robotic systems have been previously pursued. The Phoenix servicing program will build upon these legacy technologies, tackling the more complex GEO environment and expanding beyond pure traditional servicing functions. The program seeks to validate robotics operations in GEO suitable for a variety of potential servicing tasks with a Servicer/Tender, in full collaboration and cooperation with existing satellite owners. The program will examine utilization of ride-along capability to GEO supporting upgrading, repairing, assembling, and reconfiguring satellites. The program will include an early LEO flight experiment focused on satlets, as a path of risk reduction for modular assembly on orbit. Key challenges include robotic tool/end effector requirements, efficient orbital maneuvering of a servicing vehicle, robotic arm systems, and integration and efficient and low cost transportation of robotic tools. The anticipated transition partners are the Air Force and commercial spacecraft servicing providers 

Even more:
Quote
FY 2013 Accomplishments: - Completed preliminary design of robotic servicing payload architecture and systems for Phoenix vehicle. - Developed payload orbital delivery systems (PODS) designs for commercial satellite ride-along as well as first working prototype for dispensement. - Initiated flight scale build of first satlets and demonstrated aggregation of performance functions in a ground testbed. - Initiated development and build of robotic servicing components including tools and toolbelt systems and selected a complete complement of tools for Phoenix. - Initiated six degree of freedom testbed on ground; began virtual system testing with the primary and secondary robotic arms. - Initiated telepresence simulation and began test qualification and training standards for Phoenix robotic operations. - Built first prototype of sensor suite for guidance and control on servicer and evaluated it with actual flight software algorithms.

FY 2014 Plans: - Complete critical design of robotic servicing system including primary and secondary robotic arms and toolbelt. - Deliver prototypes of various servicing tasks to robotic testbed for validation and integration with tools. - Complete mission validation testing inside a six degree of freedom testbed. - Complete critical design of tele-operations system. - Conduct pre-ship review for early LEO satlet experiment equipment and deliver to launch integrator.

FY 2015 Plans: - Launch early LEO satlet experiment and conduct experiment operations. - Complete delta critical design of satlets per lessons learned from LEO experiment. - Complete delta critical design of PODs. - Validate specific servicing mission types that maximize commercial and DoD operations. - Validate primary and secondary robotic hardware and software.
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 03:21 AM by savuporo »
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline savuporo

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #60 on: 12/09/2014 10:42 PM »
So launch deal was apparently signed between NovaWurks and Spaceflight Inc for a late 2015 launch

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/12/09/54124/#more-54124

They are not showing which launcher though
http://spaceflightservices.com/manifest-schedule/

This is very much the satlet demo mission though, not a whole lot of servicing
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Offline ionzide

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #61 on: 12/15/2014 08:45 AM »
So launch deal was apparently signed between NovaWurks and Spaceflight Inc for a late 2015 launch

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/12/09/54124/#more-54124

They are not showing which launcher though
http://spaceflightservices.com/manifest-schedule/

This is very much the satlet demo mission though, not a whole lot of servicing

A couple other links mention the Falcon 9 perhaps...

Quote
The mission will be the first for Sherpa, a free-flying secondary payload dispenser equipped with its own power, propulsion and pointing systems, according to Curt Blake, Spaceflight’s president. It is designed to launch as a piggyback payload and, after separating from its carrier rocket, deploy as many as five satellites, each weighing up to 300 kilograms, in their desired orbits.

Blake declined to name the rocket that will launch the tug on its maiden flight except to say that it will be a U.S. commercial mission. Spaceflight, which arranges rides for piggyback payloads on various rockets, has previously said it planned to demonstrate Sherpa on flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launcher. - See more at: http://spacenews.com/darpa-satlets-to-fly-on-sherpas-debut-mission/#sthash.WC84bsxF.dpuf

Quote
On Tuesday, Seattle-based launch broker Spaceflight announced that it has signed an agreement to carry Phoenix’s first spacecraft. It’s slated to launch some time in the third quarter of 2015 as a secondary payload on a rocket. Although Spaceflight has not yet identified the rocket provider for this launch and could not discuss it, I have been told by several people that the mission will go up on a SpaceX Falcon 9.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/satellites/darpas-satellite-revival-program-gears-up-for-first-launch


Offline MP99

Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #62 on: 12/16/2014 04:53 PM »
#15 by Jim on 15 Nov, 2013 23:42
Quote from: Solman on 26 Oct, 2013 20:00
Your five year old laptop might be quite valuable to someone who can't afford a new one but can afford a battery.

But replacing the battery costs as much as a new laptop


If you're talking about real batteries for actual laptops, then "unsubstantiated".

If that was a metaphor, then as you were.

Cheers, Martin

Offline jongoff

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #63 on: 12/16/2014 07:59 PM »
It'll be cool to see NovaWurks satlets fly. The building a spacecraft out of modular lego bricks does come with costs, but does also allow you to do some interesting things that they haven't been able to do so far.

~Jon

Online TrevorMonty

Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #64 on: 12/18/2014 07:38 AM »
It'll be cool to see NovaWurks satlets fly. The building a spacecraft out of modular lego bricks does come with costs, but does also allow you to do some interesting things that they haven't been able to do so far.

~Jon

Here is video of Satlet concept, definitely has possibilities. Rockets may not be LEGO but it looks like building future satellites maybe as simple as LEGO.


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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #65 on: 01/03/2015 01:06 PM »
NSF friends can someone just give a very simple idea what DARPA is looking for here?

As I see it.....the USAF had a Servicing program it was called the Space Shuttle and they walked away from that program.

So is this just about costs?

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Offline Jim

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #66 on: 01/03/2015 04:32 PM »
NSF friends can someone just give a very simple idea what DARPA is looking for here?

As I see it.....the USAF had a Servicing program it was called the Space Shuttle and they walked away from that program.


No, the Shuttle was NASA's and it did not fly polar.

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #67 on: 01/03/2015 06:43 PM »
NSF friends can someone just give a very simple idea what DARPA is looking for here?

As I see it.....the USAF had a Servicing program it was called the Space Shuttle and they walked away from that program.

So is this just about costs?

Well, my company was involved in Phase 1. What they were originally looking for was a way of changing the cost equation on spacecraft by attacking the cost of the spacecraft bus. The idea being that while you take a performance hit for a modular bus design based on snapping together a large number of Satlet "lego bricks", that the production rate for those lego bricks could be really high compared to satellites (enough to do an assembly line), and you could drastically cut the price of designing and building spacecraft buses. A bus made of modular chunks might also be more graceful in its failure/degradation modes, and it might be possible to remove/replace defective lego-bricks, or add new upgraded versions as newer versions come out.

In order to make that satlet vision work, they needed to include some robotic assembly capabilities, and they also needed a way of getting lego bricks to GEO affordably (PODS). And ultimately they wanted to tie it together into some sort of a demo, so they picked the idea of harvesting an aperture (antenna dish) off of a dead GEO commsat to build the new satellite around. The apertures are one of the few pieces that don't degrade or get obsolete as quickly, and they also don't break up conveniently into lego-bricks. So if you could demonstrate the ability to reuse old antennas with new electronics and new bus hardware, it could be interesting. Combine that with scratching DARPA's spacecraft servicing itch by demonstrating the ability to modify a spacecraft on orbit, and you have the original plan.

Ultimately, I think the overall concept fell out of favor. There's always been a strong interest in space robotics at DARPA (primarily for servicing), and having a way of getting stuff to GEO (the PODS were interesting), but the specific servicing mission they were going after no longer seemed so compelling--maybe due to the launch costs or the cost of developing the most sophisticated robotic servicing spacecraft ever on a shoestring budget.

Not sure where things are going now, as our part was cut from the program a few months into Phase 2. But it sounds like they still want to make progress on the individual elements of the program, but are waiting for new ideas to try and wrap them into a new overall in-space demo.

~Jon

In order to make that work, they also needed a way o

Offline Danderman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #68 on: 04/12/2015 02:13 PM »
http://www.darpa.mil/our_work/tto/programs/phoenix.aspx

I noticed that the program goals don't seem as ambitious as earlier reports.


Offline Danderman

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Re: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program
« Reply #69 on: 12/24/2016 01:51 AM »
This program seems to have dropped from our radar.

Should it go in the "Dead Event" section?
« Last Edit: 12/24/2016 01:52 AM by Danderman »

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