Autonomous Cryogenic Propellent Depot Design
The cost of building and launching satellites limits the number of assets that can be placed in orbit. This makes it critical for the asset to have as long a lifetime as possible to reduce the replacement rate. A propellent depot has become an integral part of most plans for providing on-orbit refueling. The effort proposed here is for an analysis of several very promising fluid storage, transfer and management techniques as well as the autonomous requirements involved with operating a cryogenic propellent depot on orbit. Based on this analysis, a conceptual design for an autonomous cryogenic fluid storage and transfer system will be generated along with a development and testing plan for Phase II. The advantages of an on-orbit propellant depot have been identified, most recently for the Orbital Express program. For example, there is a growing requirement to give satellites the ability to maneuver to new orbits on a regular basis. The ability of a satellite to change orbits on a regular basis makes it less vulnerable to attack, allows it to be repositioned to observe new crisis areas, and reduces the need for multiple-satellite constellations to provide global coverage.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Michigan Aerospace Corporation
1050 Highland Drive, Suite E Ann Arbor, MI 48108
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