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Emerging mobile and fixed broadband telecom satellites require high capacity platforms able to support wide range of flexible payloads types. Today, for each new procured satellite, several highly skilled engineers start the design of the panels. In other words, each satellite is a unique design. Cost reduction demands that very different missions are accommodated on the same platforms minimising the non recurrent part of the platform while keeping platform capacity to the right level.
The objective of the study has been to brainstorm potential communication satellite standardized modules and to derive a solution which allows to save manpower and costs for non-recurring and recurring satellites design and to shorten the AIT process, giving also an estimation of the relative high non-recurring costs for the design and prototyping of the standardised modules.
Considering the overall objective of the study as described above, the detailed ones are listed as follows:
Modularity and flexibility are the key issues of the study. These have been applied at satellite platform and telecommunication (TLC) payload level finding suitable technical solutions to design and implement satellites in a new and more efficient way, improving their capabilities and performances, reducing at the same time the implementation cost.
The technical brainstorming on potential communication satellite standardized modules and derived solutions which allows to save manpower and cost for non-recurring and recurring satellites design and to shorten the AIT process have been investigated starting from the current state-of–the-art.
In the last years particularly, the modularity of the TLC payload knows large improvements addressed at the flexibility of the architecture and the modularity in the equipment configuration and integration. This is stimulated also by new emerging technologies in the space context as the optic/photonic techniques for the connectivity on board satellite (optic technology) and for the components at payload level (photonic technology), the multi-port amplifier making available a large reduction in mass and volume and giving the possibility to improve a lot the configurability that is the flexibility.
The fundamental results of the study can be summarised in three main work steps:
The above steps give three areas where the benefits can be envisaged: in the technological area (development), in the mission area (application) and in the market area (commercial approach).
Intent of the Consortium is to continue in developing the modular and flexible technology to improve the TLC satellite production and its impact on the related market.
The technical brainstorming for the objective of modularity and flexibility on potential communication satellite standardized modules and derived solutions which allows to save manpower and cost for non-recurring and recurring satellites design and to shorten the AIT process have been investigated starting from the current state-of–the-art on some critical technologies having the possibility to make an actual way to design the new generation satellites in a possible very close future.
The starting point and, at the same time, the approach for the entire activity has been the identification and analysis of the modularity already present in the current way to design and manufacture a complete (platform + payload) TLC satellite, trying also to highlight the critical factors or elements constituting obstacle for a complete modularity and flexibility implementation.
For what concern the platform the question that TLC satellites of today are only partly modular is because each subsystem has an impact on the other one for instance for what concern the satellite platform the thermal control function, at same time already the power distribution can be easily modular because it is possible to tune the power with the addition of some strings to the solar panels and/or by adding rows of cells in the battery.
For the satellite (platform + payload) flexibility three possible concepts have been identified for the modularity and flexibility approach, i.e.:
Classical Flexibility Concept (CFC) is the less innovative and it is meant to render the satellites of today as modular as possible without huge breakthrough by optimizing some features (electric propulsion, reorganization of the volumes, thermal and electrical interfaces etc.).
Central Tube Concept (CTC) is meant to optimize the payload accommodation volume and some features while on orbit thanks to a wise deployment of modules away from the central tube and backbone interface. Fig. 1 depicts t a possible CTC configuration.
Fig.1: Centralised Config
Module Configuration Concept (MCC) is meant to optimize the ROI, i.e. the same modules may be used for a SATCOM in GEO and for a SATCOM in LEO with small adaptations:
Modularity and flexibility concepts are strictly connected with the capability both to adapt during the mission lifetime the payload mission to dynamic requirements updating and the capability, at design stage, to adopt a standardized solution in order to achieve a manufacturing optimization and a cost reduction for the commercial market enjoying the benefits of standard integration and test procedures.
Payload modularity can be achieved acting on each sub-system composing the TLC payload itself, as shown in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2: Main payload concepts for modular design
The study activity has been executed in one phase only and has been completed.
The study has been successfully concluded.