Author Topic: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo  (Read 4270 times)

Offline catdlr

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DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« on: 05/17/2013 11:32 PM »
DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
By Warren Ferster | May. 17, 2013

http://www.spacenews.com/article/military-space/35375darpa-cancels-formation-flying-satellite-demo#.UZa8tLWG1vq

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The System F6 experiment was intended to demonstrate and explore the benefits of dispersing the functions of a single satellite across several smaller platforms. The demonstration satellites were supposed to exchange data with one another in space.

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....lack of an overall integrator to pull the mission together, and said the project’s cancellation is in no way a signal that DARPA, the Pentagon’s advanced technology development arm, is shying away from space projects.
« Last Edit: 05/17/2013 11:33 PM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Blackstar

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #1 on: 05/19/2013 03:29 AM »
That's interesting. I have been rather dubious of these disaggregation proposals. First of all, they don't sound like they make much sense. It's kinda like saying that you're going to take your television apart and spread it all over the floor and make it "better." Some components have to be attached to each other to work, and spreading things out adds structure and systems to each component, and also adds a station-keeping requirement. It just didn't sound logical.

The other problem I've had with these ideas is that the whole thing seems like the latest fad. We get lots of fads where people suddenly get really excited about something and make lots of claims about it without anybody having proven that any of it works. You could make a long list of space technologies that people have argued were going to revolutionize spaceflight.

Offline kfsorensen

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #2 on: 05/19/2013 03:30 PM »
"Tousley also cited a lack of a clear “business case” for heterogenous, fractionated space missions at the Department of Defense, though he drew a distinction between that and the broader disaggregation concept currently being explored by the U.S. Air Force. Disaggregation entails breaking up the mission sets of large spacecraft and dispersing them among smaller satellites."

Some of us recognized the lack of a business case within seconds of first hearing about the concept.

Nevertheless, I did see some really remarkable work being done at Northrop Grumman in El Segundo (the old TRW plant) in support of this activity in the spring of 2010.  Proof that clever people can do good work even on fundamentally unsound concepts.

Offline gospacex

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #3 on: 05/19/2013 05:42 PM »
Formation flying is a must for huge interferometers

Offline jebbo

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #4 on: 05/19/2013 06:23 PM »
Formation flying is a must for huge interferometers

You mean the ones we're going to need to directly image nearby planets?

Being an optimist, I'm hoping TPF and/or Darwin get resurrected in the next few years when we find a nearby "Earth 2.0" :-) 

Online edkyle99

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #5 on: 05/19/2013 08:11 PM »
That's interesting. I have been rather dubious of these disaggregation proposals. First of all, they don't sound like they make much sense.
The only way it would make sense to me is if it were intended to make it more difficult for an attacker to degrade U.S. defense satellite capability.  China just demonstrated a launcher for an ASAT system able to reach GPS, and possibly geosynchronous, orbits - something the U.S. has never done (nor anyone else I believe).  Other than making the satellites more maneuverable than the kill vehicle, the only approach I could imagine would be to "fill the sky" with targets faster than they could be eliminated.  (I would park my secret satellites in plain site, on rocket stages and other "debris".)

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/19/2013 08:14 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Lar

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #6 on: 05/19/2013 08:40 PM »
That's interesting. I have been rather dubious of these disaggregation proposals. First of all, they don't sound like they make much sense.
The only way it would make sense to me is if it were intended to make it more difficult for an attacker to degrade U.S. defense satellite capability.  China just demonstrated a launcher for an ASAT system able to reach GPS, and possibly geosynchronous, orbits - something the U.S. has never done (nor anyone else I believe).  Other than making the satellites more maneuverable than the kill vehicle, the only approach I could imagine would be to "fill the sky" with targets faster than they could be eliminated.  (I would park my secret satellites in plain site, on rocket stages and other "debris".)

 - Ed Kyle

Total James Bond! The game would be up if they started maneuvering, though...
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Offline joek

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #7 on: 05/19/2013 08:53 PM »
That's interesting. I have been rather dubious of these disaggregation proposals. First of all, they don't sound like they make much sense. It's kinda like saying that you're going to take your television apart and spread it all over the floor and make it "better." Some components have to be attached to each other to work, and spreading things out adds structure and systems to each component, and also adds a station-keeping requirement. It just didn't sound logical.

Disaggregation is a bit ambiguous.  This DARPA program might be described as physical disaggregation ("take your television apart and spread it all over the floor").  There is "capability disaggregation", which seems to be the USAF/DoD theme (search for "General Shelton satellite disaggregation").  E.g., from Big Contractors Also Poised for Shift to Disaggregation, SpaceNews, 26-Apr-2013:
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During recent trade shows, Northrop Grumman officials have been pitching products aimed at a more cost-conscious government customer. Specifically, the company is shopping a protected satellite communications capability for tactical users that currently is available only from the Air Force’s large — and expensive — Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite system.

“When [Shelton] talks about disaggregation, this is what he’s talking about,” said Rick Skinner, director of communication systems and business development for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems of Redondo Beach, Calif.

Offline ChileVerde

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Re: DARPA Cancels Formation-flying Satellite Demo
« Reply #8 on: 05/20/2013 02:43 AM »
China just demonstrated a launcher for an ASAT system able to reach GPS, and possibly geosynchronous, orbits - something the U.S. has never done (nor anyone else I believe). 

Naryad, later manifested as Rokot/Briz, was supposed to be capable of that, but, due to the collapse of the Evil Empire, it never got very far. 

I'd be amazed if the US didn't have several file cabinets full of studies for high-altitude ASATs but, AFAIK, those got even less far.
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Tags: DARPA