Building a Resilient Space Architecture

Adversaries great and small understand the importance of U.S. space capabilities and continually seek to undermine them—through physical and digital means. To counter this evolving threat, future space systems must be both defensible and resilient.
A constellation of CubeSats orbiting in low Earth orbit provides greater space resiliency because it will remain operational even if some of its satellites cease functioning.
3D printed items
3-D printing can be done with a variety of materials for the best application to specific missions.

Aerospace has been devising methods to achieve a more resilient and integrated space architecture, one that will quickly recover from an adverse event. The multifaceted approach draws upon rapid development, fast procurement, responsive launch, and distributed system function. In many regards, it requires a whole new way of thinking about the overall space enterprise.

Production Agility

Quote from Gen. John Raymond

For example, one approach to achieving greater resilience relies on rapid replenishment and reconstitution of orbital assets. This, in turn, requires greater speed and efficiency on the factory floor. Aerospace has proposed an acquisition paradigm known as Continuous Production Agility (CPA), which emphasizes higher-volume production through standardized design. Aerospace is also helping the government apply innovative acquisition strategies and streamline the decision-making process to maintain a fast development pace.

Advanced ground and launch systems will provide the foundation for a resilient space enterprise. As co-lead of the Range of the Future Task Force, Aerospace is spearheading development of a comprehensive plan to upgrade launch facilities to better accommodate rapid launch rates involving new providers and reusable rockets. Aerospace has also been helping the Air Force enhance its ability to detect a cyber intrusion and is participating in on-orbit demonstrations of cyber defense and situational awareness. This work draws upon comprehensive experience in ground system operations.

Greater speed can mean greater risk in satellite acquisitions, but Aerospace is helping to control those risks. Specifically, Aerospace is applying its extensive expertise in modeling and simulation to fully analyze and evaluate new technologies and space architectures before implementation. Mission assurance techniques are also being revamped to keep up with the faster tempo.

Small, Resilient Spacecraft

Efforts such as these support the broader vision to augment large, exquisite satellites—which make attractive targets for adversaries—with smaller, distributed clusters and multilayer solutions that are harder to overwhelm and easier to reconstitute.

Aerospace was an early pioneer in developing small satellites and continues to conduct pathfinding research in the field. This expertise, combined with advanced prototyping capabilities, enables Aerospace to quickly address customer needs while reducing development risk. The ability to rapidly build and deploy space assets will expedite technology insertion and ensure that future systems stay well ahead of emerging threats.

This article was featured in the Aerospace 2018 Annual Report.