Author Topic: DARPA Phoenix Satellite Service and Salvage program  (Read 27891 times)

Offline a_langwich

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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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It's your med's!

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.

Offline Jim

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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

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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?

Online 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

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