Impact evaluation of in-space additve manufacturing on modularized geostationary platforms

Patrick J. Sears, Koki Ho

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The following study identifies key benefits of utilizing In-Space Additive Manufacturing (ISAM) for servicing of modularized sateliites in Geostationary Orbit (GEO). The platforms within the servicing infrastructure will be composed of modularized units that aggregate together to capture the full functionality of a standard satellite. There are two infrastructures considered in this paper, referred to as the baseline infrastructure and Additive Manufacturing (AM) infrastructure. The baseline framework contains a launch vehicle, mothership containing spare modules, and a robotic servicer used to replace failed modules. The AM framework contains the same elements as the baseline while adding an Additive Manufacturing Facility aboard the mothership. Stochastic simulations are performed to account for satellite failure and the responsiveness of each infrastructure is evaluated and compared. Additionally, 3D printing capabilities are gradually added to the AM infrastructure in a logical way, allowing it to manufacture more modules on demand. This increase in capability is also compared to the baseline infrastructure. The two key metrics used for comparison are the required resupply launch mass to the moterhship once its spare supply is depleted and the average service wait time of the satellites within each framework. This paper shows that even introducing limited AM capability into the framework, the required resupply launch mass from Earth is reduced. As additional AM technologies are added, the benefits in launch mass increase. Additionally, it is shown that the ability to manufacture on orbit and on demand allows the infrastructure to service more satellites than without AM technology. In fact, the benefits in responsiveness of on orbit AM relative to the baseline architecture increase as the number of serviceable satellites increase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SPACE and Astronautics Forum and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624104831
StatePublished - 2017
EventAIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, SPACE 2017 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Sep 12 2017Sep 14 2017

Publication series

NameAIAA SPACE and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, SPACE 2017


OtherAIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, SPACE 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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