Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Robert A. Lake, PhD.


Investment in the commercial space industry has grown significantly over the past decade. This investment has led to a tremendous leap in capability for small satellite systems and a greater demand for small launch vehicles. At the same time, space system affordability is a point of emphasis within the Department of Defense (DoD) which raises the question: Can the DoD lower space access costs through the exploitation of the growing small satellite and small launch marketplace? We perform a financial analysis of newly developed small launch vehicles delivering a small satellite constellation to low earth orbit (LEO) to perform wideband communication. The results are then compared against the historical costs of the DoDs Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation. We conclude small communication satellites delivered to LEO by newly developed small launch vehicles produce potential cost savings ranging from 10% to 22% versus WGS. Small satellite and small launch vehicle systems must evolve to meet the capability and performance of the DoDs current wideband communication system, but the potential financial savings found in our research gives the DoD flexibility in procuring future space capabilities for U.S. defense.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number