Quantification of the responsiveness of on-orbit servicing infrastructure for modularized earth-orbiting platforms

Tristan Sarton du Jonchay, Koki Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper aims to quantify the responsiveness of two on-orbit servicing infrastructures providing services to multiple serviceable platforms in coplanar medium Earth orbit (MEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO). The platforms to be serviced are assumed to be made of elementary units (EUs). EUs are small standardized structural units capable of aggregating with each other and gathering the key functions of a typical satellite within the size of a 6U cubesat. The first servicing infrastructure considered in this paper, called “Without Depot” (WoD), includes a launch vehicle and a robotic servicer. The second servicing infrastructure, called “With Depot” (WD) includes a launch vehicle, a robotic servicer and an orbital depot of EUs. The responsiveness of these infrastructures is quantified using a queueing theory-based stochastic simulation on Simulink taking into account the launch and platform random failures. The metrics used to quantify the responsiveness are the service completion rate and the average waiting time before an EU is replaced over a 10-year period of operation. With respect to those metrics, it is demonstrated that WD is more responsive than WoD. However, WD is also shown to be likely to cost more than WoD. Finally, the sensitivity of the responsiveness of WD to the capacity of the orbital depot is analyzed to find the minimum storage capacity for which WD is the most responsive. This last result could be of interest for space designers dealing with the sizing of on-orbit servicing infrastructures. We believe that the concept introduced in this paper will be a critical milestone in the design of a responsive integrated space infrastructure dedicated to the development and prosperity of a new MEO/GEO economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-203
Number of pages12
JournalActa Astronautica
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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