Session

Session I: New Elements

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Presentation Slides

Abstract

In an effort to achieve responsiveness, increase effectiveness, and reduce the uncertainty involved in maintaining a space architecture dependent on a few high-capacity, high-cost satellites, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has proposed the concept of fractionated spacecraft. DARPA plans to compress spacecraft development timelines, enable launch with smaller, more responsive vehicles, and make the spacecraft architecture fundamentally flexible and robust. DARPA’s System F6 (Future Fast, Flexible, Free-Flying, Fractionated Spacecraft united by Information eXchange) is a technological and paradigmatic demonstrator of this concept.While fractionated architecture is likely to significantly transform the technology base, as well as the development and operational concept for delivering on-orbit capability, this disruptive concept arose from a substantial and rather distinguished pedigree of foundational thoughts, concepts, and demonstrators developed throughout the Space Age as designers have explored satellite constellations, cooperative spacecraft, distributed systems, and miniaturization. Concepts or programs ranging from pioneers like the Transit navigation and IDSCP/DSCS-I communications satellite efforts through the Air Force’s XSS series, NASA’s New Millennium, DART, and TPF programs, Orbcomm, ANTS, TechSat-21, GPS, and many others have contributed to the stream of innovation leading to the architectural paradigm shift of the F6 program.It was not just the promise of new technologies and operational concepts that led to the genesis of F6, but also the deficiencies of the conventional, monolithic approach to space systems that largely pervades the industry today. This paper traces the development of the intellectual, technological, and policy foundations of the fractionated spacecraft concept throughout the preceding decades. We conclude with an assessment of future hurdles to its proliferation and make some projections about its likely applicability to various space missions in the years to come.

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Aug 10th, 2:45 PM

Fractionated Space Architectures: Tracing the Path to Reality

In an effort to achieve responsiveness, increase effectiveness, and reduce the uncertainty involved in maintaining a space architecture dependent on a few high-capacity, high-cost satellites, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has proposed the concept of fractionated spacecraft. DARPA plans to compress spacecraft development timelines, enable launch with smaller, more responsive vehicles, and make the spacecraft architecture fundamentally flexible and robust. DARPA’s System F6 (Future Fast, Flexible, Free-Flying, Fractionated Spacecraft united by Information eXchange) is a technological and paradigmatic demonstrator of this concept.While fractionated architecture is likely to significantly transform the technology base, as well as the development and operational concept for delivering on-orbit capability, this disruptive concept arose from a substantial and rather distinguished pedigree of foundational thoughts, concepts, and demonstrators developed throughout the Space Age as designers have explored satellite constellations, cooperative spacecraft, distributed systems, and miniaturization. Concepts or programs ranging from pioneers like the Transit navigation and IDSCP/DSCS-I communications satellite efforts through the Air Force’s XSS series, NASA’s New Millennium, DART, and TPF programs, Orbcomm, ANTS, TechSat-21, GPS, and many others have contributed to the stream of innovation leading to the architectural paradigm shift of the F6 program.It was not just the promise of new technologies and operational concepts that led to the genesis of F6, but also the deficiencies of the conventional, monolithic approach to space systems that largely pervades the industry today. This paper traces the development of the intellectual, technological, and policy foundations of the fractionated spacecraft concept throughout the preceding decades. We conclude with an assessment of future hurdles to its proliferation and make some projections about its likely applicability to various space missions in the years to come.