On-orbit Servicing Architectures for large LEO constellations

Lowered launch costs and growth in the satellite industry have led to several proposed large LEO constellations, 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. Large LEO 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