Structural considerations for volume production of constellation satellites

Tsinas, Angelos (2001) Structural considerations for volume production of constellation satellites. (MPhil thesis), Kingston University, .


The rapid changes in aerospace technology have led to the transformation of the satellite communication industry from a limited production run to a volume production orientated manufacturing process. Current satellite constellations employ clusters of many units which can reach up to many dozens (Globalstar uses 56 satellites, Iridum 72 etc.). It has become evident that past practices for satellite manufacture are not appropriate for constellation satellites. The most significant problem is the long lead times and high cost associated with the old methods of production. As a result new methods of satellite construction and assembly need to be identified and implemented. This thesis describes the new technologies that need to be evolved to achieving efficient design and manufacture, particularly to the area of satellite structures. It starts with a description of some of the current constellations. The effect of external parameters such as the launch and space environment is examined. Volume production approaches and philosophies and a description of how they are connected for the benefit of an efficient structure are described next. Finally, a comparison of the different structural approaches is presented in order to achieve the maximum structural efficiency. The different methods are assessed in terms of structural efficiency using Finite Element Analysis, irrespective of their manufacturing complexity and cost. These last two parameters are assessed next. Their importance in choosing the optimum design is shown using a parametric mode1. The conclusions of the thesis are that the new manufacturing methods show much promise and efficiency in terms of design merit and cost saving.

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