Session

Pre-Conference Workshop Session 3: Year in Review - Research & Academia

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Advances in the small satellite combined with the availability of low-cost launches have led to an increasing number of space missions. As space is more accessible than ever before, new and innovative missions arise. A broad understanding of reliability trends on satellites can guide these future missions towards success. As a result, more and more space industries are focusing on reliability in the early stages of the design. The goal of this paper is to investigate the reliability of small satellites launched over the last three decades. Satellites launched between January 1990 - December 2019 and weighing between 40kg - 500kg are considered for this study. The dataset consists of 866 Earth-orbiting satellites. This study utilizes Kaplan-Meier estimator for calculating non-parametric reliability functions. The reliability results are then used to fit parametric models such as Weibull distribution to identify reliability trends. The dataset is further categorized based on satellite mission, launch year, developer, design life and orbit inclination to analyze their specific reliability trends. Finally, the contribution of satellite subsystems to satellite failure is quantified for this dataset and the subsystems with high(er) propensity for failure are identified. The results obtained in this study shall help in reliability/redundancy allocation of small satellites and its subsystems. It also supports small satellite design decisions, testing strategies and developing reliability growth plans for future missions. Furthermore, understanding the reliability trends in the past decades could potentially improve the reliability of small satellite in this current decade.

SSC21-WKIII-02.pdf (1598 kB)
PowerPoint Slides

SSC21-WKIII-02.pdf (1598 kB)

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 7th, 12:00 AM

Small Satellite Reliability: A Decade in Review

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Advances in the small satellite combined with the availability of low-cost launches have led to an increasing number of space missions. As space is more accessible than ever before, new and innovative missions arise. A broad understanding of reliability trends on satellites can guide these future missions towards success. As a result, more and more space industries are focusing on reliability in the early stages of the design. The goal of this paper is to investigate the reliability of small satellites launched over the last three decades. Satellites launched between January 1990 - December 2019 and weighing between 40kg - 500kg are considered for this study. The dataset consists of 866 Earth-orbiting satellites. This study utilizes Kaplan-Meier estimator for calculating non-parametric reliability functions. The reliability results are then used to fit parametric models such as Weibull distribution to identify reliability trends. The dataset is further categorized based on satellite mission, launch year, developer, design life and orbit inclination to analyze their specific reliability trends. Finally, the contribution of satellite subsystems to satellite failure is quantified for this dataset and the subsystems with high(er) propensity for failure are identified. The results obtained in this study shall help in reliability/redundancy allocation of small satellites and its subsystems. It also supports small satellite design decisions, testing strategies and developing reliability growth plans for future missions. Furthermore, understanding the reliability trends in the past decades could potentially improve the reliability of small satellite in this current decade.