Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - 34

Tech Briefs

Van Allen radiation belts. As the number of spacecraft in orbit increased, so did the United States' understanding of space weather
and its effects on technology. Today, it is understood that " energetic particles and plasma in the space environment can be hazardous to space systems, causing system outages, shortening mission lifetimes, reducing functional capabilities, and potentially
masking hostile actions " . Despite these known threats, " the ability to observe, predict, and warn of impending solar activity is in
its childhood " .
The United States is limited in its ability to understand current environmental conditions in space and forecast space
weather and its effects partly due to the relatively small number of environment sensors currently in orbit. Two classes of
sensors are employed to track the near-earth space environment: (1) Targeted sensors capable of measuring the environment and effects at a level sufficient for providing situational
awareness for the host spacecraft; and (2) comprehensive sensors capable of providing detailed environmental measurements that can be mapped to a broad region of near-Earth
space, providing global situational awareness and quantitative
characterization of the environment.
Additionally, due to the lack of space weather situational
awareness, determining if environmental factors contributed to
an on-orbit spacecraft anomaly is " time- consuming, inaccurate,

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34

Attitude Control
and Propulsion

Attitude Reference

Thermal Control

Stuctural and
Mechanisms
Telemetry, Tracking
and Command

Payload

Electrical
Power

Basic Spacecraft Subsystems (Source: Nelson and Lenehan)

and of a low confidence level " . Finally, U.S. national security is
increasingly dependent on the capabilities of space systems.
Space is now a recognized domain of warfare. In this increasingly contested environment, " real-time, spatially accurate space
environment data from a targeted sensor is critical to determining whether a specific anomaly event might be the result of hostile activity rather than natural phenomena " .
National security space system development, deployment, and
operations would benefit greatly from improved space environment situational awareness; however, at this time, a comprehensive strategy to improve U.S. capabilities has not been approved.
Sensor technology is at a readiness level that accommodates multiple targeted sensors incorporated onto the spacecraft structure
with minimal impact to the host. Currently, monitoring the environment around individual spacecraft is rarely a requirement.
Without a requirement, program managers are not able to invest
in this capability despite the known benefits.
To overcome these challenges, a low- to no-cost schedule impact integration plan is recommended. This strategy will allow
the spacecraft operators to benefit immediately from the data
provided by targeted spacecraft sensors. Over time, it will improve the general understanding of the space radiation and
plasma environments over all orbital regimes where national security spacecraft operate.
This comprehensive amalgamation of targeted spacecraft sensors will improve space weather models that influence both space
weather forecasting and spacecraft design. These immediate and
comprehensive improvements to the understanding of the space
environment will allow space operators to respond proactively to
space weather threats, differentiate between space weather and
adversarial impacts, and allow spacecraft designers to engineer
spacecraft with more accurate margins to survive space weather
effects. These benefits ultimately improve spacecraft operational
availability and space weather monitoring resiliency and will
help drive down spacecraft cost.
This work was done by Dennis R. Olson for the Naval Postgraduate
School. For more information, download the Technical Support
Package (free white paper) at www.aerodefensetech.com/
tsp under the DAQ, Testing & Sensors category. NPS-0015
Aerospace & Defense Technology, April 2021

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Cov

Basic Spacecraft Subsystems

ToC


http://info.hotims.com/79412-782 http://info.hotims.com/79412-782 http://www.aerodefensetech.com/tsp http://www.abpi.net/ntbpdfclicks/l.php?202104ADTNAV

Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021

Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Intro
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Sponsor
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov1
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov2
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Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov3
Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - Cov4
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