Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Space Systems


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Eric D. Swenson, PhD


The Operational Responsive Space (ORS) program requires flexible and responsive satellites to meet user’s needs. Traditional satellite design methods are typically iterative processes that optimize individual components, subsystems, and ultimately the entire satellite. This study focuses on developing a new approach for creating Responsive Satellites (RS) from Plug-and-Play (PnP) components. The aim is to create an approach that quickly evaluates a wide variety of possible satellite configurations and identify the best configurations that meet the user’s needs and constraints. Satellite configurations are created by matching locations on the satellite structure with PnP components. Various constraints are derived from the user’s inputs at different levels of the configuration process. As the user provides more information related to PnP satellite, additional constraints can be applied to reduce the number of PnP satellite configurations resulting in manageable numbers or even zero configurations. In this research, we found that applying constraints whenever it is applicable results in eliminating invalid configurations. Each satellite configuration is saved to a database, if the user desires, a sorted list can help the user find the lowest mass and least expensive satellite that meets their requirements. Configurations can also be eliminated when respective properties are very close to each other which will reduce the number of satellite configurations from which the user can select. A goal of this research effort is to help users assess basic concept feasibility from several key aspects in a short period of time. Finally, more specialized and computationally demanding estimation tools could be called from this approach to perform further analysis, such as thermal, vibration, or structural, to compare and contrast performance characteristics of various satellite configurations.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number