Adventures In Deep Space

A blog about turning our "crazy" big idea to transform deep space exploration into a real company (click on header above to view this blog's home page)

Ultra Low Cost Satellite Bus (ULCSB)

August 28, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

The payload of any one satellite, while still benefiting from low cost instrumentation built in volume, is still likely to be highly customized. However, as NASA Ames identified with the Modular Common Spacecraft Bus (MCSB) and Rocket Labs is exploring with its Earth orbit based "Photon" system, there should be significant savings to be had with using a common set of "infrastructure" among multiple satellites.

The Ultra Low Cost Satellite Bus (ULCSB) is intended to take this benefit, and then vastly enhance it by transforming the satellite manufacturing process from hand-built one-offs to a "production line" approach in which these elements are built in volume.

Tags: satellite-bus, payload, thepitch

Modular Common Spacecraft Bus (MCSB)

August 23, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

NASA Ames has designed something conceptually similar in motivation to what we're contemplating:

"The Ames Modular Common Spacecraft Bus is a lightweight carbon composite structure designed to accommodate launch loads and provide attenuation of impact loads. It is also designed for ease of manufacturing and assembly. The modularity of the design is intended not only for multiple mission configurations, but also parallelism in development and assembly. The system-level components were drawn from low-cost flight-proven product lines." Source: Ames Modular Common Spacecraft Bus - NASA web site

It has apparently flown once, in 2013, as Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), this is discussed by Spaceref in NASA's LADEE - Testing a Multi-Use Spacecraft Design and in cites below. It was a part of the proposed but not greenlighted Phobos And Deimos & Mars Environment (PADME) mission (2020).

It looks like the military found this to be more interesting, and had Northrup-Grumman develop a similar concept starting in 2010 and delivered in 2014, in conjunction with NASA and USU (host of the conference where a paper on the MCSB was delivered in 2009), the Modular Space Vehicle (MSV) Bus. However, this is not intended for use beyond earth orbit.

Jargon of interest referenced in the above article, "The MSV implements a Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) using Space Plug-n-Play Avionics (SPA)."

Tags: satellite-bus, spacetech, jargon, further-reading

Satellite Bus Systems

August 23, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

The following are of interest as they are instantiations of our concept (radical cost reduction via mass production and standardization) at some level, as per Wikipedia "built to the same model of structural frame, propulsion, spacecraft power and intra-spacecraft communication". What is NOT happening here, is construction in volume, ala a "production line", each of these is still being "purpose built" (and probably by hand, as well).

Tags: spacetech, satellite-bus, market