On-orbit Servicing Architectures for LEO Mega-constellations

Lowered launch costs and growth in the satellite industry have led to several proposed mega-constellations in LEO, with Starlink constellation numbering more than a thousand already since its first launch 2 years ago. Though the satellites may be cheaper, the increased number may allow for economical and technological feasibility of on-orbit servicing in LEO. To support such an architecture, an optimal path to visit each satellite in the architecture must be explored using astrodynamic perturbations and optimal control. Mega-constellations can be defining mathematically using the Lattice Flower Constellation theory allowing symmetries in relative dynamics. Solutions can also be found using 3rd body effects from the moon and non-conservative forces such as solar radiation pressure.

Image: Dan Jang / MIT