Will CubeSats introduce a Moore’s law to space science missions?

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Abstract

The advent of the CubeSat standard has changed the way space engineering is taught throughout the world. Engineering students are introduced to hands on space projects at unprecedented scales. This in terms has led to the production of vast numbers of small spacecrafts which are ultimately launched into low earth orbit. By necessity these spacecrafts are built primarily using of the shelf components. This mechanism thus tests COTS components, miniaturized systems and new designs in large numbers and gives flight heritage to the successful ones. Parallel to teaching there’s a growing industry of small space companies likewise eager to develop, test and fly new space technology. This also increases the pool of space hardware with flight heritage. Historically the space business has been very conservative in terms of technology renewal preferring well proven technology and systems. Thus spacecraft sizes – though with a large spread – have remained constant. For many scientific missions size directly impacts the science returns, however lighter probes could potentially fly faster and thus go closer. Likewise, smaller unit mass allows for swarms potentially allowing for new science. Review of space missions indicates that some CubeSat technology adaptation is taking place, introducing a variety of Moore’s law to space science. Moore’s law presents a single parameter; the doubling time of transistor density on IC’s. The work presented here shows that size reduction cannot by described by a single parameter but must also take into account the mission scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 4th International Academy of Astronautics Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop
Volume163
PublisherAmerican Astronomical Society
Publication date2018
Pages677-694
ISBN (Print)978-0-87703-647-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-87703-648-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event4th International Academy of Astronautics Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop - Rome, Italy
Duration: 4 Dec 20177 Dec 2017

Conference

Conference4th International Academy of Astronautics Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop
Country/TerritoryItaly
CityRome
Period04/12/201707/12/2017
SeriesAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
Volume163
ISSN0065-3438

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