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Purpose — The US Government is challenged to maintain pace as the world’s de facto provider of space object cataloging data. Augmenting capabilities with nontraditional sensors present an expeditious and low-cost improvement. However, the large tradespace and unexplored system of systems performance requirements pose a challenge to successful capitalization. This paper aims to better define and assess the utility of augmentation via a multi-disiplinary study. Design/methodology/approach — Hypothetical telescope architectures are modeled and simulated on two separate days, then evaluated against performance measures and constraints using multi-objective optimization in a heuristic algorithm. Decision analysis and Pareto optimality identifies a set of high-performing architectures while preserving decision-maker design flexibility. Findings — Capacity, coverage and maximum time unobserved are recommended as key performance measures. A total of 187 out of 1017 architectures were identified as top performers. A total of 29% of the sensors considered are found in over 80% of the top architectures. Additional considerations further reduce the tradespace to 19 best choices which collect an average of 49–51 observations per space object with a 595–630 min average maximum time unobserved, providing redundant coverage of the Geosynchronous Orbit belt. This represents a three-fold increase in capacity and coverage and a 2 h (16%) decrease in the maximum time unobserved compared to the baseline government-only architecture as-modeled. Originality/value — This study validates the utility of an augmented network concept using a physics-based model and modern analytical techniques. It objectively responds to policy mandating cataloging improvements without relying solely on expert-derived point solutions.


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Journal of Defense Analytics and Logistics