Impact evaluation of in-space additive manufacturing and recycling technologies for on-orbit servicing

Patrick J. Sears, Koki Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper proposes an integrated simulation tool to evaluate the impactoffuture in-space additive manufacturing (ISAM) and recycling technologies on the responsiveness of an on-orbit servicing (OOS) infrastructure to random failures of satellites distributed over an orbit. The considered OOS infrastructure is composed of a mothership and a servicer (i.e., daughtership); the mothership serves as a depot for spares, whereas the servicer travels with the spares to randomly failed satellites and provides a service. All satellites are assumed to be modularized, and thus, the service type considered within the infrastructure is the replacement of a failed module with a new spare one. Additionally, an ISAM facility can be added to the mothership, which can scavenge material that makes up the failed module. This obtained feedstock from failed modules, along with raw material supplied from Earth, couldbeusedto manufacture a new spare. The key parametersinthis analysis include the technology level of ISAM, in terms of the types of material it can manufacture, and the scavenge rate, defined as the percent of material mass able to be recycled from the failed module to the new module. The two metrics for evaluation are the required resupply launch mass to the mothership and the average waiting time of the satellites before it is serviced. Simulation results showed that the ISAM and recycling technology providesalarge impact intermsofboth reductionin resupply launch mass and responsiveness of its service to the randomly failed satellites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1508
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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