The DISCOVERER project is developing technologies to enable commercially-viable sustained-operation of satellites in very low Earth orbits for communications and remote sensing applications. Operating closer to the surface of the Earth significantly reduces latency for communications applications and improves link budgets, whilst remote sensing also benefits from improved link budgets, the ability to have higher resolution or smaller instruments, all of which provide cost benefits. In addition, all applications benefit from increased launch mass to lower altitudes, whilst end-of-life removal is ensured due to the increased atmospheric drag. However, this drag must also be minimised and compensated for. DISCOVERER is developing several critical technologies to enable commercially viable operations in at these lower altitudes including aerodynamic materials, aerodynamic attitude and orbit control methods, atmosphere breathing electric propulsion and an in-situ environment monitoring payload. The current status of these developments are summarised, along with the plans for the coming year.
|Title of host publication
|71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) – The CyberSpace Edition, 12-14 October 2020.
|Accepted/In press - 15 Oct 2020