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Building a Robotic, LEO-to-GEO Satellite Servicing Infrastructure as an Economic Foundation for 21st-Century Space Exploration

Gary A. P. Horsham, George R. Schmidt and James H. Gilland
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Gary A. P. Horsham: NASA Glenn Research Center, USA
George R. Schmidt: NASA Glenn Research Center, USA
James H. Gilland: Ohio Aerospace Institute, USA

International Journal of Space Technology Management and Innovation (IJSTMI), 2011, vol. 1, issue 1, 1-23

Abstract: The strategy for accomplishing civilian exploration goals and objectives is in the process of a fundamental shift toward a new approach called “Flexible Path.†In this paper, the authors present a strategically aligned, government-industry partnership focused on the commercial development of Low Earth Orbit to Geostationary Orbit (LEO-to-GEO (LTG)) space over the next quarter century. A LTG satellite-servicing infrastructure and architecture concept is presented along with a brief assessment of the key applicable technologies. The evolution of the communications satellite industry is also discussed within the context of an emerging commercial in-space servicing industry. Large-scale, robotic, LTG satellite servicing is considered an essential economic pre-condition and next parallel or sequential step on the road toward robust, capital intensive human-robotic exploration beyond LEO. Such a step might produce the necessary pre-requisite economic value that can be used by future decision makers to justify further investment in exploration. A high-level implementation plan is offered.

Date: 2011
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