Credit: Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS).

Mega-constellations consisting of tens, hundreds and even thousands of satellites in non-geostationary orbits are now being proposed to bring affordable broadband and other services to the world.

However, investors in and operators of such constellations must clear multiple hurdles before getting their hardware off the ground, including rounds of technical reviews, securing financing and gaining regulatory approvals.

Even after receiving orbital and spectrum licenses, these proposed mega constellations risk significant delays because they must be deployed within a defined period and failure to do so has onerous consequences.

A new policy paper — Launch Uncertainty: Implications for Large Constellations – has been issued by the Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS).

Mitigate potential delays

Once regulatory approvals have been met, the paper notes, constellation operators may still face a shortfall of launch vehicles, satellites and ground systems or launch site processing issues, cancellations and flight anomalies.

Credit: Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS).

The paper offers ideas for better understanding prospects for delays, such as analysis of historical delay data coupled with event simulation, which can help operators and investors understand, plan for, and ideally mitigate these potential delays.

Schedule margin

Delay risk can be mitigated by actions, the policy document suggests, such as adding launch processing infrastructure, increasing workforces, using overtime judiciously, and having ample schedule margin, as well as potentially policy and rule changes to facilitate government relief for those actors not directly responsible for delays.

To view a copy of Launch Uncertainty: Implications for Large Constellations, go to:

https://aerospace.org/paper/launch-uncertainty-implications-large-constellations

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