ChapterPDF Available

Cost Effective Earth Observation Missions - Chapter 7 - Application Fields, Status Quo and Prospects

Authors:

Abstract

This study was performed by an IAA study group, formed in 2002. The members of the study group represent different entities like governmental organizations, space agencies, academia, industry, as well as different disciplines like science, engineering, application oriented professions, and management. The geographic distribution of the 36 authors of this study covers 15 countries on five continents. Under these circumstances there was a unique opportunity to generate a study unbiased in every aspect, intended to serve the information needs of the target groups: Governments, space agencies, academia, industry, which rely on good overview information concerning status and possibilities/prospects of cost-effective Earth observation missions in the very broad variety of applications. Cost-effective missions can be achieved by using different approaches and methods. One of the possible approaches is taking full advantage of the ongoing technology developments leading to further miniaturization of engineering components, development of micro-technologies for sensors and instruments which allow to design dedicated, well-focused Earth observation missions. At the extreme end of the miniaturization, the integration of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) with microelectronics for data processing, signal conditioning, power conditioning, and communications leads to the concept of application specific integrated micro-instruments (ASIM). These micro- and nano-technologies have led to the concepts of nano- and pico-satellites, constructed by stacking wafer-scale ASIMs together with solar cells and antennas on the exterior surface, enabling the concept of space sensor webs. Further milestones in the cost-effective Earth observation mission developments are the availability and improvement of small launchers, the development of small ground station networks connected with rapid and cost-effective data distribution methods, and cost-effective management and quality assurance procedures. Since the advent of modern technologies, small satellites have also been perceived to offer an opportunity for countries with a modest research budget and little or no experience in space technology, to enter the field of space-borne Earth observation and its applications. This is very much in line with the charter of the IAA Study Group on Small Satellite Missions for Earth Observation. One of its intentions is to bring within the reach of every country the opportunity to operate small satellite Earth observation missions and utilize the data effectively at low costs, as well as to develop and build application-driven missions. In this context the study group supports all activities to develop and promote concepts and processes by various user communities to conduct or participate in Earth observation missions using small, economical satellites, and associated launches, ground stations, data distributions structures, and space system management approaches. More generally cost-effective Earth observation missions are supported by four contemporary trends: • Advances in electronic miniaturization and associated performance capability; • The recent appearance on the market of new small launchers (e.g. through the use of modified military missiles to launch small satellites); • The possibility of ‘independence’ in space (small satellites can provide an affordable way for many countries to achieve Earth Observation and/or defense capability, without relying on inputs from the major space-faring nations); • Ongoing reduction in mission complexity as well as in those costs associated with management; with meeting safety regulations etc. The advantages of small satellite missions, complementing the large complex missions are: • more frequent mission opportunities and therefore faster return of science and for application data • larger variety of missions and therefore also greater diversification of potential users • more rapid expansion of the technical and/or scientific knowledge base • greater involvement of local and small industry. This Study provides a definition of cost-effective Earth observation missions, information about background material and organizational support, shows the cost drivers and how to achieve cost-effective missions, and provides a chapter dedicated to training and education. The focus is on the status quo and prospects of 2 applications in the field of Earth observation. Finally, conclusions and recommendations are summarized in terms of • more general facts that drive the small satellite mission activities, • outcomes from the background material used in the study which show that good work have been done before and the lessons learned process started soon after beginning of the small satellite activities, • additional outcomes of the study which go beyond the information of the background material, and • some visions concerning the future of cost-effective Earth observation missions. In brief, our position is that developing cost-effective Earth observation missions is within the means of many nations. The development of small satellite technologies bears with it enormous opportunities to do more with less, address local and global needs, focus the development of the technical infrastructure of a country, and reduce risk inherent in the use of space.
International Study
Cost Effective Earth Observation
Missions
IAA Commission IV Study Group
Commission IV: System Operation & Utilisation
International Academy of Astronautics
October, 2005
iii
POSITION PAPER CONTRIBUTORS
Principal Editor:
Rainer Sandau
Redaction Committee:
Jaime Esper
Larry Paxton
Rainer Sandau
Authors (contributions to chapters):
Briess, Klaus (Germany) 4.1.3, 7.1, 8.4.2
Bartholomé, Etienne (Italy) 7.9
Belward, Alan (Italy) 7
Boshuizen, Chris (Australia) 8.1.1, 8.1.2
Carmona-Moreno, Cesar (Italy) 7
Contant, Jean-Michel (France) 4.4
Cutter, Mike (UK) 4.1.1
Esper, Jaime (USA) 3.2.4, 4, 4.1.2, 4.5, 5, App. 3
Hsiao, Fei-Bin (Taiwan) 8.3, 8.4
Ince, Fuat (Turkey) 7.5
Jacobs, Martin (South Africa) 5 - 5.2.3
Kayal, Hakan (Germany) 4.2, 4.3
Kawashima, Rei (Japan) 8.5.3
Klimov, Stanislav (Russia) 8, 8.1, 8.5.1
Konecny, Gottfried (Germany) 3.2.1, 7.8
Krischke, Manfred (Germany) 7.2
Lee, Chris (UK) 3.1.2, 3.2.3, 4.1.1, 4.2
Neumann, Andreas (Germany) 7.4
McCuistion, Doug (USA) 4.5
McKenna-Lawlor, Susan (Ireland) 3.2.1.1 – 3.2.1.7, App. 1, 2
Mostert, Sias (South Africa) 5
Olsson, Håkan (Sweden) 7.3
Parlow, Eberhard (Switzerland) 7.6
Paxton, Larry (USA) 1, 2, 3.1.3, 3.2.5, 3.2.7, 7.5, 9
Sandau, Rainer (Germany) 1, 3, 3.1.1, 3.2.2, 3.2.6, 3.2.8, 3.2.9, 3.2.10, 8.4.4,
8.4.5, 9
Scherer, Dieter (Germany) 7.7
Squibb, Gael (USA) 3.2.11
Taylor, Emma A. (UK) 3.2.11
Wertz, James (USA) 6
Wynne, Randolph (USA) 7.3
Yasaka, Tetsuo (Japan) 8.5.3
iv
Further Contributors:
Kusnierkiewicz, David (USA)
Milne, Garth (South Africa)
Ovchinnikov, Michael (Russia)
Thyagarajan, K. (India)
Wei, Sun (UK)
v
LIST OF CONTENT
Position Paper Contributors ..........................................................................................................iii
List of Abbreviations....................................................................................................................... ix
Summary........................................................................................................................................... 1
1 Introduction............................................................................................................................... 3
2 Definition of cost-effective Earth Observation Missions..................................................... 11
3 Background Material and Organizational Support............................................................. 13
3.1 Studies ............................................................................................................................................. 13
3.1.1 IAA Studies............................................................................................................................. 13
3.1.1.1 IAA Position Paper on Inexpensive Scientific Satellites..................................................... 13
3.1.1.2 IAA Position Paper: The Case for Small Satellites.............................................................. 14
3.1.2 COCONUDS ........................................................................................................................... 15
3.2 Organizations and Programs............................................................................................................ 16
3.2.1 United Nations......................................................................................................................... 16
3.2.1.1 Introduction to UN/COPUOS.............................................................................................. 16
3.2.1.2 Background to UN/COPUOS.............................................................................................. 16
3.2.1.3 UN Conferences on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space......................................................... 17
3.2.1.4 UNISPACE III/ Small Satellite Missions for Earth Observations....................................... 18
3.2.1.4.1 Definition of Small Satellites........................................................................................ 18
3.2.1.4.2 Philosophy of Small Satellites...................................................................................... 18
3.2.1.4.3 Complementarity of Large and Small Satellite Missions.............................................. 19
3.2.1.4.4 Small Satellite Management......................................................................................... 19
3.2.1.4.5 Scope of Small Satellite Applications........................................................................... 19
3.2.1.5 Recommendations of UNISPACE III.................................................................................. 20
3.2.1.6 Conclusions ......................................................................................................................... 20
3.2.1.7 Useful Background Reading................................................................................................ 21
3.2.2 CEOS....................................................................................................................................... 21
3.2.2.1 General Information ............................................................................................................ 21
3.2.2.2 Structures and Activities related to the position paper subject ............................................ 22
3.2.3 ESA Smallsat Initiatives.......................................................................................................... 23
3.2.4 NASA ...................................................................................................................................... 25
3.2.4.1 NASA’s Faster, Better Cheaper Paradigm........................................................................... 25
3.2.4.2 Examples of NASA Missions.............................................................................................. 26
3.2.5 COSPAR.................................................................................................................................. 26
3.2.5.1 General Information ............................................................................................................ 26
3.2.5.2 Structures and activities related to the position paper subject............................................. 27
3.2.6 IAF........................................................................................................................................... 28
3.2.6.1 General information.............................................................................................................28
3.2.6.2 Structures and Activities related to the position paper subject ............................................ 28
3.2.7 Operational Agencies (NOAA, EUMETSAT)........................................................................ 29
3.2.8 International Academy of Astronautics IAA........................................................................... 32
3.2.8.1 General Information ............................................................................................................ 32
3.2.8.2 Structures and activities related to the Position Paper subject............................................. 32
3.2.9 ISPRS ...................................................................................................................................... 36
3.2.9.1 General Information ............................................................................................................ 36
3.2.9.2 Structures and Activities related to the position paper subject ............................................ 37
3.2.10 EARSeL................................................................................................................................... 38
3.2.10.1 General Information......................................................................................................... 38
3.2.10.2 Structures and Activities related to the position paper subject ........................................ 39
3.2.11 ISO TC20/SC14 "Space systems and operations"................................................................... 39
4 Mission Cost Drivers............................................................................................................... 45
4.1 Space segment ................................................................................................................................. 45
4.1.1 Payload .................................................................................................................................... 45
4.1.2 Spacecraft ................................................................................................................................ 47
4.1.3 Quality Assurance.................................................................................................................... 47
4.2 Ground segment............................................................................................................................... 48
vi
4.3 Mission Operations.......................................................................................................................... 51
4.4 Access to Space............................................................................................................................... 53
4.5 Management and Organizational Approach .................................................................................... 56
4.5.1 Industry Approach – The Earth Orbiter 1 (EO-1) Experience................................................. 56
4.5.2 Government Agency or Organization...................................................................................... 56
5 Cost estimation and modeling................................................................................................ 59
5.1 Definitions and Background............................................................................................................ 59
5.1.1 Lifecycle Phases ...................................................................................................................... 59
5.1.2 Work Breakdown Structure..................................................................................................... 59
5.1.3 Costing Models........................................................................................................................ 59
5.2 Current Best Practice, Comments and Examples ............................................................................ 60
5.2.1 Best Practice from Micro-satellite experience......................................................................... 60
5.2.2 Cost models and Mission Costs: a self fulfilling prophecy?.................................................... 60
5.2.3 Pooling of Contribution and Funding...................................................................................... 61
6 Achieving Cost Effective Missions......................................................................................... 63
6.1 Is Cost Reduction Real? .................................................................................................................. 63
6.2 Determining Goals and Objectives.................................................................................................. 64
6.3 General Methods for Reducing Space Mission Cost....................................................................... 66
6.4 Using Non-Space Assets ................................................................................................................. 71
6.5 Data Sharing, Cost Sharing, and Income Generation...................................................................... 74
7 Application Fields, Status quo and Prospects ...................................................................... 75
7.1 Disaster warning and support .......................................................................................................... 76
7.1.1 Status quo ................................................................................................................................ 76
7.1.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 80
7.2 Agriculture....................................................................................................................................... 83
7.2.1 Status quo ................................................................................................................................ 83
7.2.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 86
7.3 Forestry............................................................................................................................................ 86
7.3.1 Status quo ................................................................................................................................ 86
7.3.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 88
7.4 Ocean and Coastal Zone.................................................................................................................. 89
7.4.1 Status quo ................................................................................................................................ 89
7.4.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 91
7.5 Atmosphere ..................................................................................................................................... 93
7.5.1 Observations of the Earth’s Atmosphere and Ionosphere Status quo...................................... 93
7.5.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 95
7.6 Weather and Climate....................................................................................................................... 96
7.6.1 Status quo ................................................................................................................................ 96
7.6.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 97
7.7 Ice and Snow ................................................................................................................................... 97
7.7.1 Status quo ................................................................................................................................ 97
7.7.2 Prospects.................................................................................................................................. 99
7.8 Mapping and Geographic Information System Applications ........................................................ 100
7.8.1 Status quo .............................................................................................................................. 100
7.8.2 Prospects................................................................................................................................ 102
7.9 Land Use/Cover Change................................................................................................................ 103
7.9.1 Status quo .............................................................................................................................. 103
7.9.2 Prospects................................................................................................................................ 104
8 Training and Education ....................................................................................................... 107
8.1 UN initiated activities.................................................................................................................... 107
8.1.1 The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and its projects....................................... 107
8.1.2 The Space Generation Congress............................................................................................ 108
8.2 International Space University ...................................................................................................... 111
8.3 ITC in Holland............................................................................................................................... 111
8.4 Examples of Student Programs...................................................................................................... 111
8.4.1 Program of scientific-eductional microsatellites «Space to Youth, Youth to Space»............ 111
8.4.2 The PICO-Sat program.......................................................................................................... 112
vii
8.4.3 UNISEC (Japan).................................................................................................................... 113
8.4.4 ESA Activities....................................................................................................................... 115
8.4.5 IAA........................................................................................................................................ 116
9 Conclusions and Recommendations.................................................................................... 117
9.1 General Facts................................................................................................................................. 117
9.2 Conclusions and Recommendations Drawn from the Background Material in Chapter 3 ............ 118
9.3 Additional Recommendations from this Study.............................................................................. 119
9.4 The Future of Cost-Effective Earth Observation Missions............................................................ 124
9.4.1 New capabilities .................................................................................................................... 124
9.4.2 Challenges ............................................................................................................................. 125
9.4.3 Success and Failure of Cost-effective Missions .................................................................... 126
Appendix 1 Small Satellite Application Aspects drawn from UN Documents..................... 1
1 Telecommunications................................................................................................................................... 1
2 Earth Observations ..................................................................................................................................... 1
3 Scientific Research on Small Satellites ...................................................................................................... 2
4 Technology Demonstrations....................................................................................................................... 3
5 Academic Training..................................................................................................................................... 3
6 Low Cost Launches.................................................................................................................................... 4
7 Launch Access............................................................................................................................................ 4
8 Ground Segment......................................................................................................................................... 5
9 Economic Benefits...................................................................................................................................... 5
10 International Cooperation......................................................................................................................... 6
11 Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific..................................................................... 6
Appendix 2 Cooperating IAA subcommittees and joint IAA/UN Workshops .................... 1
1 IAA Subcommittee on Small Satellites for Developing Nations................................................................ 1
2 IAA Subcommittee on Small Satellites for Countries Emerging in Space Technology............................. 1
3 UN/IAA Workshop (Brazil, 2000)............................................................................................................. 2
4 UN/IAA Workshop (France, 2001)............................................................................................................ 4
5 UN/IAA Workshop (Houston, 2002) ......................................................................................................... 5
6 UN/IAA Workshop (Bremen, 2003) .......................................................................................................... 8
7 UN/IAA Workshop (Vancouver, 2004) ................................................................................................... 10
Appendix 3 Examples of NASA Missions................................................................................ 1
1 The Earth Science Enterprise ..................................................................................................................... 1
2 Earth System Science Pathfinder................................................................................................................ 5
3 The Explorers Program............................................................................................................................... 5
viii
LIST OF TABLES
Table 4.1-1: Payload and Platform Advances Appropriate to Small Satellite Implementation ............... 46
Table 4.4-1: Micro Launchers.................................................................................................................. 54
Table 4.4-2: Small Launchers.................................................................................................................. 54
Table 4.4-3: Medium Launchers.............................................................................................................. 54
Table 4.4-4: Intermediate Launchers ....................................................................................................... 55
Table 4.4-5: Heavy Launchers .................................................................................................................55
Table 4.4-6: Super Heavy Launchers....................................................................................................... 55
Table 6.1-1: Ratio of Actual Cost to Projected Cost for 10 Case Study Missions................................... 63
Table 6.2-1: Representative Cost Data for Reduced Cost Space Missions.............................................. 64
Table 6.3-1: Summary of the Cost Reduction Methods Used by the Case Study Missions of ...................
Tables 6.1-1 and 6.2-1......................................................................................................... 68
Table 6.3-2: Methods Used by Specific Case Study Missions................................................................. 69
Table 6.4-1: Summary of Effects and Recommendations Associated with the Space Environment. ...... 72
Table 6.4-2: Alternatives to a Dedicated Launch..................................................................................... 73
Table 7.2-1: Use of the different spectral bands ...................................................................................... 85
Table 7.4-1: Spatial resolution, field of view, and sampling frequency requirements for sensors...............
for coastal waters and regional applications/monitoring..................................................... 92
Table 7.4-2: Spectral requirements for coastal waters optical observation and monitoring..................... 92
Table 7.8-1: Status of World Mapping 1990.......................................................................................... 101
Table 7.8-2: Annual Update Rates of World Mapping 1990 ................................................................. 102
Table 7.8-3: Relationship between pixel size and the possible mapping scale in planimetry................ 103
Table 9.3-1: Cost Reduction Methods ..................................................................................................... 120
Table 9.3-2: Alternatives to Dedicated Satellites................................................................................... 122
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 3.1-1: Global coverage versus resolution....................................................................................... 15
Figure 3.2-1: Structure CEOS................................................................................................................... 23
Figure 3.2-2: Structure of the IAA Study Group “Small Satellite Mission for Earth Observation”.......... 35
Figure 4.2-1: Traditional Ground Segment ............................................................................................... 49
Figure 4.2-2: Future Smallsat Ground Segments ...................................................................................... 51
Figure 6.2-1: The Space Mission Analysis and Design Process................................................................ 66
Figure 6.3-1: Schedule Compression Without Changing the Rules or Requirements is a Lot .....................
Like Getting a Cat to Move a Piano Up the Stairs ............................................................. 70
Figure 7.4-1: Spatial and temporal requirements for coastal studies (after Hoepffner)............................. 91
Figure 8.1-1: Delegates at the Space Generation Congress in Vancouver Canada 2004 ........................ 110
Figure 8.1-2: Delegates at the Space Generation Summit held at the World Space Congress in 2002... 110
ix
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
ASAP Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payloads
ASIM application specific micro-instrument
CEOS Committee on Earth Observation Satellites
COCONUDS Co-ordinated Constellation of User Defined Satellites
COPUOS Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
COSPAR Committee on Space Research
COTS Commercial Off-The-Shelf
DLR Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt
German Aerospace Center
DMC Disaster Monitoring Constellation
EARSeL European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories
EO Earth Observation
ESA European Space Agency
EU European Union
FAA Federal Aviation Authority
FCC Federal Communication Commission
FMA Failure Mode Analysis
GEO Geostationary Orbit
GEO Group on Earth Observation
GEVS General Environmental Verification Specification
GMES Global Monitoring for Environment and Security
GPS Global Positioning System
GSFC Goddard Space Flight Center
HEO High Earth Orbit
HST Hubble Space Telescope
IAA International Academy of Astronautics
IAC International Astronautical Congress
IADC Inter-Agency Space Debris Co-ordination Committee
IAF International Astronautical Federation
ISAS Institute of Space and Aeronautical Sciences
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ISPRS International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
ISU International Space University
ITAR International Traffic in Arms Regulations
ITC International Training Center
JPL Jet Propulsion Laboratory
L 1 Lagrange Point 1
LANDSAT Land Remote Sensing Satellite
LEO Low Earth Orbit
MEMS micro-electromechanical system
Met Op Meteorological Operational Service
MMS Multi-mission Modular Spacecraft
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NDVI Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
SAR Synthetic Aperture Radar
SGAC Space Generation Advising Council
SPOT Systeme pour l’Observation de la Terre
TRL Technology Readiness Level
UAV Unmanned Air Vehicle
UN United Nations
UNISEC University Space Engineering Consortium
UoSAT University of Surrey Satellite
VHF Very High Frequency
1
SUMMARY
This study was performed by an IAA study group, formed in 2002. The members of the study group
represent different entities like governmental organizations, space agencies, academia, industry, as well as
different disciplines like science, engineering, application oriented professions, and management. The
geographic distribution of the 36 authors of this study covers 15 countries on five continents. Under these
circumstances there was a unique opportunity to generate a study unbiased in every aspect, intended to serve
the information needs of the target groups: Governments, space agencies, academia, industry, which rely on
good overview information concerning status and possibilities/prospects of cost-effective Earth observation
missions in the very broad variety of applications.
Cost-effective missions can be achieved by using different approaches and methods.
One of the possible approaches is taking full advantage of the ongoing technology developments leading to
further miniaturization of engineering components, development of micro-technologies for sensors and
instruments which allow to design dedicated, well-focused Earth observation missions. At the extreme end of
the miniaturization, the integration of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) with microelectronics for
data processing, signal conditioning, power conditioning, and communications leads to the concept of
application specific integrated micro-instruments (ASIM). These micro- and nano-technologies have led to
the concepts of nano- and pico-satellites, constructed by stacking wafer-scale ASIMs together with solar cells
and antennas on the exterior surface, enabling the concept of space sensor webs.
Further milestones in the cost-effective Earth observation mission developments are the availability and
improvement of small launchers, the development of small ground station networks connected with rapid and
cost-effective data distribution methods, and cost-effective management and quality assurance procedures.
Since the advent of modern technologies, small satellites have also been perceived to offer an opportunity for
countries with a modest research budget and little or no experience in space technology, to enter the field of
space-borne Earth observation and its applications. This is very much in line with the charter of the IAA
Study Group on Small Satellite Missions for Earth Observation. One of its intentions is to bring within the
reach of every country the opportunity to operate small satellite Earth observation missions and utilize the
data effectively at low costs, as well as to develop and build application-driven missions. In this context the
study group supports all activities to develop and promote concepts and processes by various user
communities to conduct or participate in Earth observation missions using small, economical satellites, and
associated launches, ground stations, data distributions structures, and space system management approaches.
More generally cost-effective Earth observation missions are supported by four contemporary trends:
Advances in electronic miniaturization and associated performance capability;
The recent appearance on the market of new small launchers (e.g. through the use of modified military
missiles to launch small satellites);
The possibility of ‘independence’ in space (small satellites can provide an affordable way for many
countries to achieve Earth Observation and/or defense capability, without relying on inputs from the
major space-faring nations);
Ongoing reduction in mission complexity as well as in those costs associated with management; with
meeting safety regulations etc.
The advantages of small satellite missions, complementing the large complex missions are:
more frequent mission opportunities and therefore faster return of science and for application data
larger variety of missions and therefore also greater diversification of potential users
more rapid expansion of the technical and/or scientific knowledge base
greater involvement of local and small industry.
This Study provides a definition of cost-effective Earth observation missions, information about background
material and organizational support, shows the cost drivers and how to achieve cost-effective missions, and
provides a chapter dedicated to training and education. The focus is on the status quo and prospects of
2
applications in the field of Earth observation. Finally, conclusions and recommendations are summarized in
terms of
more general facts that drive the small satellite mission activities,
outcomes from the background material used in the study which show that good work have been done
before and the lessons learned process started soon after beginning of the small satellite activities,
additional outcomes of the study which go beyond the information of the background material, and
some visions concerning the future of cost-effective Earth observation missions.
In brief, our position is that developing cost-effective Earth observation missions is within the means of
many nations. The development of small satellite technologies bears with it enormous opportunities to do
more with less, address local and global needs, focus the development of the technical infrastructure of a
country, and reduce risk inherent in the use of space.
3
1 INTRODUCTION
At the beginning of the space age all space projects were small, if you neglect the huge initial efforts to
provide the necessary infrastructure. The incredible increase of knowledge coming from these small space
missions induced a huge amount of new questions and the space projects were growing bigger and bigger.
This was due to the growing complexity of the missions leading to increasing costs and development times.
This trend became true not only in the US and the Soviet Union but also in the other regions entering the
space field like Western Europe and Asia. The space programs run into a kind of cost spiral: higher costs led
to fewer missions which led to the demand for higher reliability which again leads to longer schedules and
higher costs.
The return to smaller missions was initiated by
the restriction to dedicated missions with only single instruments or sensor systems optimized to
observe specific physical phenomena
the reduction in space budgets.
The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) since 1988 called attention to the potential for small
inexpensive satellite missions through studies, symposia at the IACs and stand-alone conferences, which
were organized by IAA committees (see chapter 3.2.8.2). Also UN focused on this matter through UN-
COPUOS and the UNISPACE conferences which are strongly supported by the IAA committees (see
chapters 3.2.1.6 … 3.2.1.12).
This study was performed by an IAA study group, formed in 2002. The members of the study group
represent both, different entities like governmental organizations, space agencies, academia, industry, as well
as different disciplines like science, engineering, application oriented professions, and management. The
geographic distribution of the 36 authors of this study covers 15 countries on five continents. Under these
circumstances there was a unique opportunity to generate a study unbiased in every aspect, intended to serve
the information needs of the target groups: Governments, space agencies, academia, industry, which rely on
good overview information concerning status and possibilities/prospects of cost-effective Earth observation
missions in the very broad variety of applications.
Cost-effective mission according to the formula given in chapter 2 can also be complex mission, missions
using GEO satellites, and so forth. This study focuses on small satellite missions in LEO, and, where ever
possible, on small satellites of sizes and weights to be transported into LEO with small inexpensive launchers
or even as secondary or so-called piggy-back payload systems. The small satellite mission philosophy may be
described as a design-to-cost approach with strict cost and schedule constraints, combined with, as far as
possible, a single mission objective. For the purpose of this study we use the generic term small satellite for
space craft weighting under the 1000 kg limit. We propose a simplified nomenclature for subsets of small
satellites:
mini satellites < 1000 kg
micro satellites < 100 kg
nano satellites < 10 kg
pico satellites < 1 kg
It should be noted that there is as yet no universally adopted definition of small satellites. For instance ESA
defines small having a mass of 350–700 kg, mini 80–350 kg and micro 50–80 kg. Similarity, at University of
Surrey (UK) satellites with masses of 500–1000 kg are “small” and masses of 100–500 kg belong to “mini”.
Concerning the small satellite related costs the figures differ considerably. At UNISPACE III, the costs of
developing and manufacturing a typical mini-satellite was indicated to be US$ 5-20 million, while the cost of
a micro-satellite was correspondingly US$ 2-5 million. The cost of a nano-satellite could be below US$ 1
million (prices of 1999).
Cost-effective missions can be achieved by using different approaches and methods.
4
One of the possible approaches is taking full advantage of the ongoing technology developments leading to
further miniaturization of engineering components, development of micro-technologies for sensors and
instruments which allow to design dedicated, well-focused Earth observation missions. At the extreme end of
the miniaturization, the integration of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) with microelectronics for
data processing, signal conditioning, power conditioning, and communications leads to the concept of
application specific integrated micro-instruments (ASIM). These micro- and nano-technologies have led to
the concepts of nano- and pico-satellites, constructed by stacking wafer-scale ASIMs together with solar cells
and antennas on the exterior surface, enabling the concept of space sensor webs.
Further milestones in the cost-effective Earth observation mission developments are the availability and
improvement of small launchers, the development of small ground station networks connected with rapid and
cost-effective data distribution methods, and cost-effective management and quality assurance procedures.
Since the advent of modern technologies, small satellites have also been perceived to offer an opportunity for
countries with a modest research budget and little or no experience in space technology, to enter the field of
spaceborne Earth observation and its applications. This is very much in line with the charter of the IAA
Study Group on Small Satellite Missions for Earth Observation. One of its intentions is to bring within the
reach of every country the opportunity to operate small satellite Earth observation missions and utilize the
data effectively at low costs, as well as to develop and build application-driven missions. In this context the
study group supports all activities to develop and promote concepts and processes by various user
communities to conduct or participate in Earth observation missions using small, economical satellites, and
associated launches, ground stations, data distributions structures, and space system management approaches.
More generally small satellite missions are supported by four contemporary trends:
Advances in electronic miniaturization and associated performance capability;
The recent appearance on the market of new small launchers (e.g. through the use of modified military
missiles to launch small satellites);
The possibility of ‘independence’ in space (small satellites can provide an affordable way for many
countries to achieve Earth Observation and/or defense capability, without relying on inputs from the
major space-faring nations);
Ongoing reduction in mission complexity as well as in those costs associated with management; with
meeting safety regulations etc.
The advantages of small satellite missions are:
more frequent mission opportunities and therefore faster return of science and for application data
larger variety of missions and therefore also greater diversification of potential users
more rapid expansion of the technical and/or scientific knowledge base
greater involvement of local and small industry.
But of course, generally applicable rules of space law continue to apply, where relevant, also in the area of
small satellite missions.
After some years of global experience in developing low cost or cost-effective Earth observation missions,
one may break down the missions into categories like:
Commercial – Requiring a profit to be made from satellite data or services
Scientific/Military – Requiring new scientific/military data to be obtained
New technology – Developing or demonstrating a new level of technology
Competency demonstration – Developing and demonstrating a space systems competency
Space technology transfer/training – Space conversion of already competent engineering teams
Engineering competency growth – Developing engineering competence using space as a motivation
Education - Personal growth of students via course projects or team project participation
The first three categories are usually executed in leading nations by mature space organizations with high
quality standards and concomitant overhead costs and salaries. The major means of competing in lower-cost
projects is by minimizing non-recurring engineering through re-using existing designs and processes. Since
project evaluation is based on hard reviews of operational, scientific or technological merits, there is limited
5
freedom to adapt missions to meet subsidiary mission goals. The remaining categories are represented by
developing organizations comprising nations, businesses, or individuals that often have goals of becoming
mature space organizations. The developing organizations are often centered in educational or research
institutes or are in countries that are not yet leaders in space technology. These institutes or countries are
motivated by organizational or national development aims, and are prepared to contribute manpower, funds,
and alternatively funded facilities to a spacecraft project. Such development efforts are characterized by the
inclusion of engineers of the owning country participating in the development team, but having little previous
experience of spacecraft development. Some projects are done with the help of a technology transfer
organization. Projects done without technology transfer partners are usually initiated by organizations with
well-developed technology bases.
Small satellite missions provide an attractive, and low-cost, means of demonstrating, verifying and evaluating
new technologies or services in a mission environment at a level of acceptable risk - prior to using these
technologies in more expensive, full-scale, missions. Small mission platforms can flight-demonstrate and
qualify new equipment, sensors and systems cheaply and derive meaningful results in a short time (relative to
what pertained in the case of early, essentially large, missions). NASA’s “faster, better, cheaper” approach,
as well as the program of the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Sciences (ISAS) Japan in mounting a
plethora of scientific missions of ‘small’ class, are examples of the philosophy in action at Space Agency
level. A reduction in the size of satellites has been seen among commercial Earth Observation missions, -
with fewer, smaller instruments custom configured to provide full services for specific, and national, user
communities (as compared with, say, the large Land Remote-Sensing (LANDSAT) satellites; ESA’s
ENVISAT and Meteorological Operational (MetOp) Service and the French Systeme pour l’Observation de
la Terre (SPOT) type satellites).
UNISPACE III (see chapter 3.2.1.4) concluded that small spacecraft, through exploiting advanced
technology (featuring larger payload mass in relation to the total mass of the spacecraft; reduced
development time and that reduction in launch costs accruing to the reduced size and mass of the satellite
bus), provide an attractive solution in the matter of serving the needs of Developing Countries. Of course,
this conclusion is applicable to businesses and developed countries as well.
In this study we consider large satellite missions and small satellite missions being complementary rather
than competitive. The large satellite missions are sometimes even a precondition for cost-effective
approaches. Small satellites provide an attractive, and low-cost, means of demonstrating, verifying and
evaluating new technologies or services in an orbital environment at a level of acceptable risk - prior to using
these technologies in more expensive, full-scale, missions. Also, small satellites provide more frequent and
varied mission opportunities; more rapid expansion of the relevant technical knowledge base; greater
involvement of local industry and greater diversification of potential users. Some problems are, however,
better addressed using large platforms. For example, geo-stationary satellites were, in 1999, tending to
increase in mass. This was because the number of positions available in geo-stationary orbit is limited and
because it was perceived at the time that a longer spacecraft lifetime would increase the financial return on
the investment level concerned. On the other hand, some applications, can be better solved through the use of
distributed systems (e.g. by employing constellations of either micro-satellites or small satellites suitably
configured to achieve global cover). Yet other situations call for centralized systems (for example: the
measurement requirements of a large optical instrument such as the Space Telescope; using high power,
direct broadcast, communications systems etc.).
It was noted at UNISPACE III that experience shows that small teams (25 persons) working in close
proximity, having good communications and lead by well informed responsive management, provide the best
structure for producing a small satellite within budget while also successfully meeting performance and
delivery targets. Such teams are typically found in small companies or research groups rather than in large
aerospace organizations - which latter find it difficult to modify those in-house procedures put in place and,
generally, required for large projects.
Completion of a satellite development project is an easily countable (though not necessarily reliable)
indicator of a country or organization’s technological capability. Funding can often be motivated for a first
satellite as a demonstrator, but further projects typically need solid utilization plans and are funded by
national agencies since few small satellites projects will attract commercial financing. Funding level has a
6
direct impact on the success of development spacecraft. Where a government agency or research institute
initiates, or is responsible for the project, or the payload, sufficient funds and regulatory support is normally
provided to allow the project leadership to focus on technical issues. Without such support, project leadership
is at risk of being deflected to attend to fund-raising, political, and regulatory issues, with undesirable
technical consequences for the project. Many small spacecraft projects emerge from developing nations, and
are motivated by technical development goals. The payloads are often selected by engineering teams without
a corresponding science/data interpretation team. Engineering teams often have to make the selections
because scientists regard own satellites as risky developments and prefer to spend their resources on lower-
risk activities. Government has a significant role to play in making funding available to both science and
engineering teams conditional on full participation by both disciplines.
Further opportunities exist where organizations motivated by satellite engineering and organizations
motivated by science research combine in joint projects, with each organization funding and delivering its
bus and payload contributions. With this approach, payloads are likely to produce data that will be well used,
and will be calibrated before flight to the levels necessary to extract science value.
Such science/engineering interactions can, and have occurred at international level, and increasing
globalization should encourage such cooperation. For success however, it is highly recommended that the
project be supported by government agencies on both sides, which should ensure that sufficient funding is
available to make the mission a success. It is particularly important that teams not be financially stressed in
the final phases of spacecraft and mission preparation, because of the impact on mission reliability. One
issue, of the many that face the international cooperation, is technology transfer.
The satellite itself is often the most visible aspect of a satellite mission. However, the ground segment makes
the mission possible. The ground segment fulfils three distinct functions:
(1) operations which include status and health monitoring of the satellite, as well as necessary command
preparation and validation;
(2) tracking telemetry and commanding which are realized by the telecommunications station, possibly in
association with the operations center;
(3) data reception and the transmission of data to the user(s) - for processing and further distribution.
At UNISPACE III it was noted that the ground station can be based on a simple, very high frequency (VHF),
antenna - as in the case of the University of Surrey’s UoSAT satellite series. An Earth Observation mission
can require, however, more complex support - due to the associated requirement to collect a large volume of
data. Small satellites tend be willing to trade risk for cost and rely on on-board autonomy and safe modes.
This choice reduces their need for continuous ground monitoring - thereby simplifying, as well as reducing
the overall cost of, the ground segment. The availability of on-board navigational autonomy through using
the Global Positioning Navigational System (GPS) encourages this tendency.
The cost of mission operations constitutes a major element in the overall cost of a small satellite mission.
Thus, although major agency tracking networks may be required during the launch and early operations
phase, it is more cost-effective to, thereafter, employ national facilities (ideally utilizing a single ground
station), during routine operations. A major driver is the cost of human resources. The high reliability and
power of modern, personal, computers can make automation an affordable solution (with respect for example
to antenna tracking; pass set-up and close-down; data reception/ storage; conversion of raw data; and status
checking). Also, small satellites with modest telemetry and availability requirements might utilize mobile
communications constellations to provide a global data relay system.
It was recommended that, although a ground system for a small satellite program should feature low cost, its
reliability should remain sufficient to ensure that satellite passes/data transmissions are not missed. The
system should further offer a fast return of critical data, as well as a rapid response to critical commanding.
For bulk data, a regular return could be adequate, depending on the application concerned. However, direct
down-linking to user terminals and portable ground stations can be beneficial (especially in the case of
remote sensing data).
At times the major obstacle faced by satellites, large and small, has been getting into space. Large satellites
tend to require very large boosters whose cost can approach 500M US$. These large launch vehicles are often
7
not readily available and require special launch support. Small satellites have more opportunities for space
access. Opportunities for small satellites to access space include: launch on a dedicated, expendable launch
vehicle and launch as a secondary (piggyback) satellite, or as one of two spacecraft on a ‘dual mission’, on a
single expendable launch vehicle. A launch service offered by the Space Shuttle (“get-away specials”) was
temporarily suspended in 2003 due to the grounding of the Space Shuttle following the loss of Columbia.
To make a choice between different launch opportunities involves weighing up the requirements of a desired
mission against the capabilities, costs and constraints characterizing a particular option. At UNISPACE III it
was recommended that, if a shared launch is considered, flexibility with regard to the date of launch/orbit
attainment and also the value of the spacecraft itself should be carefully taken into account by the secondary
partner. A further important consideration is the reliability record of the potential launch vehicle (those
launching a series of low-cost payloads might be willing to risk using a relatively low-cost vehicle with an
unproven record).
Over the past decades, many countries have invested in the development of indigenous launch capability. The
small class of expendable launch vehicles has stimulated the largest entrepreneurial activity in the United
States and in other countries (including airborne launchers such as Pegasus). Such vehicles can deliver
payloads weighing between 25 kg and 1500 kg to LEO. The launch of two or more small satellites on the
same expendable launch-vehicle (‘dual manifesting’) is also feasible. Long-range and intercontinental
missiles from military arsenals of the cold-war rival super powers are, in addition, presently available for
civilian space launches.
The specific cost per kilogram into orbit of small launchers is higher than for larger launch vehicles.
However, their absolute cost is much lower. Some operators offer lower prices on newly introduced
launchers (launch on a test flight might even be free of charge). Often, the perception of risk is that it is better
to distribute the programmatic risk over more than one launch – thus the mission becomes distributed across
multiple spacecraft.
Manufacturers of large expendable launch vehicles are interested in offering the option of flying secondary
(piggyback) payloads on missions where the primary payload does not fully utilize the capability of the
launcher. Such possibilities were exploited, for example, during some United States Delta launches, and in
the case of Russian Federation Soyuz and Tsyklon launches associated with the (main payload) Resurs and
Meteor satellites. Although the small payload owner enjoys the benefit of a cost-effective alternative to the
purchase of a dedicated, (small) expendable launch vehicle, the schedule of the primary payload is, in such
situations, agreed to be unaffected by the requirements/best interests of the secondary payload. While in 1999
shared launch opportunities were relatively rare, the growing requirement for multiple launches into Low and
Medium Earth orbit posed by telecommunication satellites can be expected, in the future, to generate more
frequent opportunities for piggyback launches.
Also in Europe, the Ariane 4 launcher featured a special supporting structure (The Ariane Structure for
Auxiliary Payloads ASAP), which was specifically designed to support the simultaneous launch of several
small satellites. The mass of an individual participating satellite (up to seven per launch can be lofted
together) was limited to 50 kg. The more powerful Ariane 5 is designed to launch several 50-100 kg
piggyback satellites into geo-stationary transfer, as well as into low polar, orbits.
Access to a launch may be achieved either: on a purely commercial basis; through participation in an
international agreement or through using national launch capability.
At UNISPACE III it was noted that utilization of launch services provided by an international commercial
source can be preferable to engaging in a cooperative arrangement, particularly for countries preparing for a
first launch. In such cases the launch plan should constitute an integral part of a country’s long term strategy
to implement its space program, and arrangements for the development of national expertise in managing
launch activities should, in addition, be catered for.
Cooperative missions are feasible where there is a mutual desire between the parties to maximize unique
national resources/funding. However, each participating country must assume full financial and technical
responsibility for its portion of the cooperative effort. Clear and distinct managerial and technical interfaces
must also be established in the associated agreement.
8
In connection with international co-operation it must be noted that in several countries and regions there exist
restrictions to export materials, components, services, software …
The most severe restrictions come from ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) of USA [1]. In
accordance with the Arms Export Control Act, the President of USA is authorized to control the export and
import of defence articles and defence services. The President shall designate which articles shall be deemed
to be defence articles and defence services. The items so designated constitute the United States Munitions
List. As an example, the list includes also military and space electronics. If an article or service is placed on
the United States Munitions List, its export is regulated exclusively by the Department of States.
This study is subdivided into nine chapters, this introduction being one of them. The intentions and content of
chapters 2 to 8 are:
Chapter 2: Definition of cost-effective Earth observation missions
A mission can be cost-effective regardless of its size. In the past there were fewer options for
developing and implementing large, complex missions: they tended to be implemented as
monolithic systems wherein the mission was deemed cost-effective only if all of it worked.
Small satellite technologies offer a robust path for implementing large or small missions in a
cost-effective manner.
Chapter 3: Background material and organizational support
This chapter gives high level information about the major studies done at IAA and at other
places and organizations IAA is aware of, concerning their contents, outcomes and
recommendations. More studies are implicitly addressed in the subchapter dealing with
organizations and programs. The main focus of this subchapter is to inform about the major
organizations and programs dealing with Earth observation used for both research and
applications. Besides a more general introduction, the structures and activities are presented
which are of relevance for this study; where applicable outcomes and recommendations are
summarized.
Chapter 4: Mission cost drivers
Starting from the types of satellites under consideration and cost effective approaches in general,
all relevant segments of a cost-effective mission are addressed: space segment with spacecraft
and payload, ground segment, mission operations, launch, and management.
Chapter5: Cost estimation and modeling
This chapter gives a background information on which parts of the mission has what weight or
influence in terms of costs and efforts to the entire mission.
Chapter 6: Achieving cost effective missions
The first part deals with the question: Is cost reduction real? With other words, can we meet the
overall broad mission objectives at substantially reduced cost with respect to a traditional
mission? Another issue is the determination of goals and objectives. Trading on requirements is a
standard part of the low-cost space mission design process. Furthermore, general methods for
reducing space mission cost are discussed, for instance the system engineering methods and the
programmatics methods. Also the use of non-space assets is reflected in chapter 6, which can
considerably contribute to space mission cost reduction. The last focus is on data sharing, cost
sharing, and income generation.
Chapter 7: Application fields, status quo and prospects
There is an increasing need for cost effective Earth Observation (EO) missions to meet the
information requirements of an almost ever growing range of applications. This is perhaps most
clearly seen in the many current moves for international co-operation in the field of environment
where measurements from Earth Observing satellites are an essential element. This is especially
so where we need to acquire, analyse and use data documenting the condition of the Earth’s
resources and environment on a long-term (permanent) basis. As can be seen from the list of
topics addressed in chapter 7, uses range from essential mapping activities to global climate,
with information needs arising because of legislation and through international commitments.
9
Hazards, agriculture, land degradation, desertification, deforestation, sustainable forest
management, climate, our cryosphere and others topics are all highlighted here.
For the different Earth observation application fields the mission requirements are summarized,
and the status quo of implementation. The given prospects show how the current situation can be
improved. These improvements are results of the measures and approaches described in the
preceding chapter.
Chapter 8: Training and Education
Cost-effectiveness also depends on the quality and engagement of the specialists participating in
planning and implementing an Earth observation mission. Countries taking their first steps in
space need to learn relevant techniques from more experienced space users, thereby acquiring a
cadre of appropriately trained personnel before going on to establish a national agency and to
maintain a presence in space. Technology transfer through small satellite related training
programs has been successfully implemented between Surrey University in the U.K. and
customers in Chile, Malaysia, Pakistan, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and
Thailand.
Small satellite programs provide a natural means for the education and training of scientists and
engineers in space related skills since they allow direct, hands-on, experience at all stages
(technical and managerial) of a particular mission (including design, production, test, launch and
orbital operations).
Chapter 9: Conclusions and Recommendations
The conclusions and recommendations derived from chapters 2 to 8 are summarized. In brief,
our position is that developing cost –effective Earth observation missions is within the means of
many nations. The development of small satellite technologies bears with it enormous
opportunities to do more with less, address local and global needs, focus the development of the
technical infrastructure of country, and reduce the risk inherent in the use of space.
[1] www.epic.org/crypto/export_controls/itar.html
11
2 DEFINITION OF COST-EFFECTIVE EARTH OBSERVATION MISSIONS
Defining “cost effective” in any quantitative way is difficult. Here, we develop a heuristic approach to
defining cost effective to serve as a means of capturing some of the ideas developed in this position paper.
We tend to recognize a mission that was cost effective more by what came out of it than how much money
went into it: this judgement arises after the fact, however. This tendency to ignore “sunk costs” is due to the
simple fact that there is nothing that can be done about money that has already been spent. The concern of
program managers is to reduce the total expenditure or “bottom line”, and to manage current year costs at all
times during the program. Their sponsors and customers may take a different view.
During the development phase of a mission the perceived cost of a mission involves an assessment of the
monetary costs as well as some weighting given to the probability and extent of a possible failure. This last
factor, f(R), is a function of the perceived risk R and is generally highly subjective at the management level
while at the engineering level risk can be quantitatively calculated. For example, a failure mode analysis
(FMA) can be performed on a board, box, instrument, satellite, or mission level and be quantitative.
However, management reserves, whether they are held at 10% or 30%, are determined based on experience
and in response to external customer requirements (i.e. the sponsors perception of risk). One of the
challenges of small satellite missions is to manage true risk and the perception of risk.
During the initial phase of the mission, from concept to implementation, a mission is cost-effective only as
long as it is seen as cost effective. For many missions this means that they must fit within an externally
imposed cost cap. For example, NASA’s Office of Space Sciences has defined cost caps for small- and
medium-class explorers. A successful mission must be seen to have a reasonable expectation, at all times, of
making it to launch with its core science mission addressed and within the cost cap. If there is a perception
that it will not then a termination review is held.
For these times up until launch we can define a quantity Ce such that
Ce = C/B*f(R) (1)
Where C is the cost to date (or projected cost to completion), B is the budgeted cost and f(R) is a factor that
takes into account the risk that C is incorrect. If Ce is much greater than 1 the mission will be viewed as not
being cost effective. If Ce is near 1 or less than 1 it is deemed cost effective.
The mission cap is usually viewed as strictly monetary but there is always an implicit calculation of the cost
of failure that is added to the sunk costs. That cost of failure can be lost revenues from the current mission,
from future missions, or to prestige and confidence in the mission partners. An example of the complexity
inherent in the assessment of cost is the NASA Hubble Space Telescope program. HST launch was delayed
due to the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Even after HST was built and delivered, the costs, C,
continued to increase because HST could not be launched. In the case of HST the storage costs alone were
more than $10M/month. This was in addition to the hidden cost of keeping the team together so that when the
mission is launched there are trained, experienced personnel (thus, reducing the risk of on-orbit failure)
available. In this case, consideration of the sunk costs made it difficult to even consider canceling the
program. The cost of failure was deemed to far outweigh the cost to get to launch. Thus it was still viewed as
cost effective even though it exceeded the initial cost cap. The sponsoring organization, NASA, had
relatively large financial reserves and was able to absorb these costs as well as the unexpected costs to
service HST and correct a serious design flaw.
The HST scenario has no counterpart in the small satellite community. Small satellite programs can not
withstand the loss of key personnel or the loss of a launch opportunity because their budgets are
proportionally smaller and generally have fewer advocates for the continuation of a program that is no longer
seen as “cost effective”. Large programs tend to continue on due to the fact that they are so large and visible
that cancellation is avoided. Oddly enough there is a certain robustness associated with small programs: the
sponsor can and will often tolerate more risk. This factor, not generally found in large programs, helps small
satellite programs maintain their cost effectiveness.
12
After launch
Ce= C/E (2)
where C is the perceived cost and E is the perceived earned value of the project. After launch C is largely
mission operations and data analysis and distribution costs. Note that cost and earnings are not necessarily
monetary, particularly at this stage. For governments, this equation tends to be evaluated every year: there is,
typically, no memory of the sunk costs except in the perceived value of the project. In other words, if a
mission doesn’t cost too much to run in any given year, provides some return, and was once a large program
it may continue to be operated. There are many examples of this philosophy in NASA where satellites
continue to be operated long after their original design life. An extreme example of this is Pioneer 10 which
was operated for over 30 years. This philosophy is counter to one of the tenets of effective small satellite
design: no satellite must be unique or you are trapped in the mode of continued support, with aging
equipment, of a mission that returns a lower Ce yet ties up funds. A cost effective small satellite is designed
to optimize the return on the current investment.
In Chapter 4 we discuss the mission cost drivers, C, of Eqn. (1) and Eqn. (2). Particular attention is paid to
those factors which reduce B and f(R) in Eqn. (1). Chapter 5 provides insight into the means of estimating
costs and managing the perception of f(R) in Eqn. (1). Chapter 6 discusses means of increasing the value of E
in Eqn. (2). Chapter 7 reviews the status quo and prospects for new measurements that again, if properly
implemented, will increase E in Eqn. (2). Chapter 8 provides a few examples of how E can be increased in a
less tangible way: that is, by providing educational and training that could not be achieved any other way.
13
3 BACKGROUND MATERIAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT
The main purpose of this chapter is to show, that there are already activities in the area of small satellite
missions for Earth observation which in many cases led to cost-effective solutions. This Position Paper
makes use of the already existing experiences and tries to go one or two steps further, especially in the wide
field of applications. In this context, this chapter gives high level information about the major studies done at
IAA and at other places and organizations IAA is aware of, concerning their contents, outcomes and
recommendations. More studies are implicitly addressed in the subchapter dealing with organizations and
programs. The main focus of this subchapter is to inform about the major organizations and programs dealing
with Earth observation used for both research and applications. Besides a more general introduction, the
structures and activities are presented which are of relevance for this study; where applicable outcomes and
recommendations are summarized.
Especially the UNISPACE III conference summarized many small satellite mission aspects which are already
commonly adopted and, of course, basic material for this study. In UNISPACE III many inputs are used
coming from IAA and its different Committees and Study Groups. The main activities directly related to
cost-effective Earth observation missions come from the IAA Study Group on Small Satellite Earth
Observation Missions which is the umbrella for related IAC sessions, the biannual stand-alone Symposia on
Small Satellites for Earth Observation, and also the IAA Study Group preparing this Position Paper on Cost-
Effective Earth Observation Missions.
3.1 Studies
3.1.1 IAA Studies
Since the IAA actively dealt with the subject of small satellite mission – the first special session on
inexpensive scientific satellites was organized in 1988 at the IAC in Bangalore – a lot of sessions, stand-
alone symposia, position papers and documents dealing with the different aspects of small satellite missions
for various applications have been organized and generated. As reference documents and background
material for the position paper on Cost Effective Earth Observation Missions two position papers are
considered to be suitable, both results of the activities of the IAA Committee on Small Satellites:
Inexpensive Scientific Satellites [1], [2]
The Case for Small Satellites [3].
These two position papers are shortly characterized, in order to give the status quo coming from the IAA and
to provide basis information for the position paper under subject. General information of IAA, history and
activities of the Small Satellite Committee and Study Groups, which have been created in the course of
restructuring of the IAA Committees, are described in chapter 3.2.8. There you may find also the lists of
publications related to small satellite missions.
3.1.1.1 IAA Position Paper on Inexpensive Scientific Satellites
After the first special session on Inexpensive Scientific Satellites took place at the IAC in Bangalore, 1988,
an IAA Study Team was formed which held a workshop in May 1989 in Bordeaux that resulted in a report
distributed to all members of the Academy in 1990 (for final version see [1], [2]).
The content of the Position Paper covers the feasibility, measures to achieve inexpensive satellite missions,
scientific needs and technological demonstrations as well as recommendations. This Position Paper was
intended to contribute to the creation of an awareness that other, more cost effective ways are still possible,
that they coexist with methods developed for big programs, and that they are highly recommended for the
implementation of the many more modest objectives that exist in great abundance in the scientific
community.
The Position Paper concludes that “inexpensive” scientific satellites, despite the non-precise definition of this
notion, must fill the gaps between the major programs of the great space agencies, that they can be developed
with short lead-times, and that the rules of management and technical implementation differ considerably
14
from those applied in the major programs. The advantage of such class of satellites is obvious: it allows for
higher flight frequencies and shorter times in implementing new technological developments. Ideally the
lead-times can be made to correspond with the educational cycle of space science students. For many
countries, no other than “inexpensive” satellites in this sense are conceivable for budgetary constraints.
Hence there is a commonality between the programs of such nations and those which have the possibility of
sending man into space and explore other planets.
This Position Paper provides excellent information, and many of the management recommendations are also
applicable to cost-effective earth observation missions.
Management Recommendations
Start a program with clearly identified specifications
Minimize program duration
- Reduce number of models
- Avoid technical risk in mission-critical areas
- Minimize team size
Minimize number of external interfaces
Avoid unnecessary administrative loads
Find new methods for achieving geographical distribution e. g. by multiple sub-
satellites
- Adopt innovative engineering solutions
Don’t be constrained by existing methods (but don’t reject them simply on principle)
Be innovative without pushing the frontiers of technology (interact with technologists)
- Adopt simple, well-defined subsystems interfaces
Use off-the-shelf equipment
Encourage modular design
- Make use of multiple-satellite or piggyback launch opportunities
Identify reliable flight opportunities
Adopt standard mechanical interfaces
Use a well-proven primary structure in which other users have confidence
Streamline launch campaign to minimize impact on primary payloads
- Make use of local expertise and centers of excellence
Research establishments
Small industrial companies
- Product Assurance (PA)
Develop a PA plan which is just technically adequate
Avoid high-reliability components unless justified
Restrict documentation to the absolutely necessary
Avoid component level testing and inspection unless really necessary
Emphasize box-level and system-level tests.
3.1.1.2 IAA Position Paper: The Case for Small Satellites
The purpose of this Position Paper [3] is to provide a rationale for considering small satellite missions as
means of satisfying the needs of developed as well as developing countries.
For those who have not yet had experience working in space activities, it is also intended to provide a guide
as to how and where to begin to get the technical support needed, and to indicate the initial thought process
necessary to put together a space mission. Since each entity will have its own political structure, there is no
attempt made to provide a path to available funding within a particular country. There are, of course, various
potential international sources of funding, for example, the World Bank and the United Nations.
Points are provided for orbit selection and launch possibilities. There is a brief description of the components
required to build a spacecraft, key management techniques, and decisions that must be made. Suggestions for
possible missions are included.
The Position Paper concludes that there is a rationale for considering small satellite missions as a means of
satisfying the needs of developed as well as developing countries. Governments and research institutions of
15
all countries are urged to study, undertake and support small satellite programs for research, educational and
applications purposes in accordance with their current technical and financial capabilities. The industrialized
countries should take the lead in gathering and disseminating information, the developing nations should
undertake to accede to, and to increase, such information. Particular encouragement should be given by the
industrialized countries to projects that provide education motivation and launch opportunities should be
made available by the operators of launch systems at reasonable conditions; raw data from Earth observation
should be made available on a non-discriminatory basis for research and civilian applications to all countries.
[1] Acta Astronautica, Vol 31 (1993), pp 145-167
[2] www.iaanet.org/p_papers/inex_sat.html (2005)
[3] Acta Astronautica, Vol. 31 (1993), pp. 101-144
3.1.2 COCONUDS
In 1998 The European Commission sponsored a Concerted Action to explore the feasibility of developing a
CO-ordinated COnstellation of User Defined Satellites (COCONUDS) to take European environment
monitoring forward into the information society [1]. Led by four connected user-driven groups (SciSys Ltd
and NRI from the UK, NLR from the Netherlands and Geosys from Spain) it addressed the suggestion that a
large number of users have need for timely, reliable and appropriate information to improve local
environmental decision making and that this could be satisfied through a constellation of low-cost satellites
matched to low-cost local PC reception.
To test the COCONUDS hypothesis three primary objectives were explored:
- To establish users’ needs before trying to deflect mainstream Earth Observation development onto a
new path.
- To assess technical feasibility of meeting these needs through a suitable constellation of micro-
satellites.
- To assess economic viability through an exploration of pertinent financial, political, social and
institutional issues.
In particular COCONUDS noted that while much current attention is on high resolution satellite systems,
there are a considerable body of users who would welcome a more modest – but more frequent – imaging
capability (that is 30-50m; 4 band). Invariably these users are quasi-operational, locally focused and
resource-poor (either in funding or equipment).
One key finding has been in the dissemination of appropriate data. Broadly speaking COCONUDS confirms
the user- a t t r a c t iveness of low co s t d i r e c t data reception of a l o c a l region. This co n c e p t , championed by NOAA
Figure 3.1-1: Global coverage versus resolution
Global coverage versus resolution
0.10
1.00
10.00
100.00
1000.00
0.10 1.00 10.00 100.00 1000.00 10000.00
resolution (m)
global coverage (days)
Panchr omatic
3-ba nds
4-ba nds
5-ba nds
7-ba nds and more
COCONUDS
16
meteorological satellites for many generations, has limited profile in more classical earth observation
satellites because of their large data sets. COCONUDS however concludes that many users simply require
local data and would additionally be satisfied with compressed imagery. As a result low cost reception is
entirely valid.
The Programme was completed in 2001 and various related initiatives have subsequently taken the concept
forward – most notably the UK SSTL Disaster Monitoring Constellation.
[1] www.dlr.de/iaa.symp/archive_3/pdf/0901.pdf
3.2 Organizations and Programs
3.2.1 United Nations
In the United Nations a number of organizations are involved in the use of satellite imagery
the UN/COPUOS (United Nations committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) in Vienna follows
conference activities, such as Unispace, and conducts seminar and training programs in the area of
actions for catastrophic events,
FAO, Rome, has since decades a program on food security sponsoring meteorological satellite uses and
land cover monitoring,
the UN Secretariat, New York, has a cartography unit helping to homogenize digitization and exchange
of cartographic products between UN organizations,
UNEP, Nairobi and UNEP-GRID in various locations around the globe (e. g. Arendal, Norway) makes
extensive use of satellite data for monitoring purposes of the environment
Because of the direct relevance of the UN/COPUOS materials for the subject of this position paper, the
following parts of the chapter give a comprehensive summary of the UN/COPUOS activities, documents and
derived findings.
3.2.1.1 Introduction to UN/COPUOS
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs constitutes that office of the United Nations responsible
for promoting international co0operation with regard to developing the peaceful uses of outer space. The
focal point of the activities of the United Nations in this regard is its Committee on the Peaceful Uses of
Outer Space (COPUOS.). This Committee was established in 1959 to: review the scope of international co-
operation in the matter of developing the peaceful uses of outer space; devise associated programs to be
undertaken under United Nations auspices; encourage continued research and dissemination of space-related
information and consider legal issues arising from the exploration of outer space.
UN/COPUOS and its two standing subcommittees - The Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the
Legal Subcommittee respectively address such issues as: benefits from space activities; the definition and de-
limitation of outer space; geo-stationary orbit applications; the implications of remote sensing; space-
sciences; space-based communications; navigation and meteorological systems; nuclear power sources in
outer space; space debris and the spin-off benefits of space technology.
3.2.1.2 Background to UN/COPUOS
In 1958, shortly after the launching of the first artificial Earth Satellite (Sputnik-1), the UN General
Assembly (UN/GA) established an ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to consider:
The activities and resources of the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other international
bodies relating to the peaceful uses of outer space;
International cooperation and programs in the field that could appropriately be undertaken under United
Nations auspices;
Organizational arrangements to facilitate international cooperation in the field within the framework of
the United Nations;
Legal problems which might arise in programs to explore outer space.
17
Practical proposals advanced at the time to promote international co-operation included: exchange of
information on space research; co-ordination of national space research programs and assistance in the
realisation of these programs.
In 1959 the General Assembly established the above mentioned Committee as a permanent body and
reaffirmed its mandate under GA Resolution 1472 (XIV). In 1961, considering that the United Nations
should provide a focal point for international co-operation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space,
the General Assembly requested this Committee to:
Maintain close contact with governmental and non-governmental organisations concerned with outer
space matters;
Provide for the exchange of such information relating to outer space activities as governments may
supply on a voluntary basis; supplementing, but not duplicating, existing technical and scientific
exchanges;
Assist in the study of measures for the promotion of international co-operation in outer space activities.
These tasks were specified to be performed in co-operation with the Secretary-General - using UN office
facilities. The Secretary General was, in addition, personally requested to maintain a Public Registry of
Launchings, based on the information supplied by States launching objects into orbit or beyond.
These terms of reference have since provided general guidance for the activities of COPUOS in promoting
international co-operation in the peaceful uses and exploration of outer space.
At the time of writing (mid 2003) COPUOS incorporates 65 Member States. In addition to these States, a
number of international organisations, including inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations,
have observer status with respect to COPUOS and its Subcommittees.
The decisions of the General Assembly relating to the peaceful use of outer space and of COPUOS are
implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) which co-ordinates all space-
related activities of the United Nations and carries out the United Nations Program on Space Applications.
This Office, which is located at the United Nations premises in Vienna, Austria, organises an annual Inter-
Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities which is open to all organisations of the United Nations system
and deals with such issues as exchanging information, preventing duplication and arranging joint activities of
common interest.
Detailed information on the work of COPUOS and its Subcommittees are contained in Annual Reports,
which can be readily accessed through the web-site of the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs.
Since the advent of modern technology, particularly of microelectronics, small satellites have been perceived
to offer an opportunity for countries with a modest research budget and little or no experience in space
technology, to enter the field of space research and its applications. Against the background of this
philosophy, the COPUOUS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee routinely includes this issue in its
deliberations.
The Committee for Space Research (COSPAR) collaborates with the International Astronautical Federation
(IAF) in organising various meetings. In particular, COSPAR and the IAF mount annual (biennial from
2003) joint symposia held during the scientific and technical sessions of the UN/COPUOS and these
symposia are organised by OOSA. Only those symposia relating to small satellites for Earth Observation,
with special regard to the requirements of Developing Countries, will be mentioned here. Such a
COSPAR/IAF symposium entitled Space Technology in Developing Countries making it happen was
convened in 1992 and a further symposium entitled Utilisation of micro and small satellites for the expansion
of low-cost space activities taking into special account the needs of Developing Countries was held in 1996.
The proceedings of these events are available on the COSPAR/IAF website.
3.2.1.3 UN Conferences on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space
The Office for Outer Space Affairs provided the substantive secretariat for three United Nations Conferences
on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE I, II and III), held in 1968, 1982 and 1999 respectively.
Reports on the proceedings of these individual conferences are available on the United Nations website. The
18
organization of UNISPACE III was recommended by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/67 of 14
December 1992. At that time, in the newly established post cold-war era with its profoundly changed
circumstances with regard to space and security, it was recognized that bold and innovative thinking on the
part of the UN and its Member States was required to derive maximum benefit for everyone from the new
situation. The primary aims of UNISPACE III (held in Vienna from 19-30 July, 1999) were defined to be as
follows:
To promote effective means of using space technology to assist in the solution of problems of regional
or global significance;
To strengthen the capabilities of Member States, in particular Developing Countries, to use the
applications of space research for economic and cultural development;
To provide Developing Countries with opportunities to define their needs for space applications for
development purposes;
To consider ways of expediting the use of space applications by Member States to promote sustainable
development;
To address the various issues related to education, training and technical assistance in space science and
technology;
To provide a valuable forum for a critical evaluation of space activities and to increase awareness
among the general public regarding the benefits of space technology;
To strengthen international co-operation in the development and use of space technology and its
applications.
In consequence of related discussions during the meeting itself, a resolution, currently referred to as The
Space Millennium Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development, was formulated which constitutes
the nucleus of a strategy to address outstanding global challenges in the space arena. The text of this
declaration is contained in the “Report of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and
Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” (UN document A/CONF. 184/6).
3.2.1.4 UNISPACE III/ Small Satellite Missions for Earth Observations
In preparation for UNISPACE III, the Office for Outer Space Affairs of the UN Secretariat compiled a set of
twelve background papers to provide Member States participating in the Conference (as well as in various
regional preparatory meetings), with information on the latest status and trends in the use of space-related
technologies. These papers were based on inputs provided by: international organisations, space agencies and
by experts from all over the world. They are available through the UN Office of Outer Space website and
should be read collectively. Only paper nine (Small Satellite Missions) which was discussed under the aegis
of a dedicated Technical Forum during UNISPACE III, will be described below.
3.2.1.4.1 Definition of Small Satellites
It was noted in the above mentioned paper on Small Satellite Missions that there is no universally adopted
definition of a small satellite. An upper limit of about 1000 kg is, however, usually observed and this was the
limit adopted for UNISPACE III. Further, spacecraft of >100 kg were referred to as mini-satellites; those
between 10-100 kg as micro-satellites and those below 10 kg as nano-satellites. (It is recalled for comparison
that, at the University of Surrey in the U.K., spacecraft between 500-1000 kg are classified as ‘small’ while
those between 100-500 kg are classified as ‘mini’ satellites. Also, at the European Space Agency (ESA),
spacecraft between 350-700 kg are referred to as ‘small’ while those between 80-350 kg and those between
50-80 kg are called “mini” and “micro” satellites respectively).
At UNISPACE III, the cost of developing and manufacturing a typical mini-satellite was indicated to be
between US$ 5 - 20 million, while the cost of a micro-satellite was correspondingly between US$ 2 - 5
million. The cost of a nano-satellite could be below US $ 1 million (prices of 1999).
3.2.1.4.2 Philosophy of Small Satellites
The small space mission philosophy was described to require a design-to-cost approach (within strict cost
and schedule constraints), combined with, as far as possible, a single mission objective. This focused
approach was noted to be supported by four contemporary trends:
Advances in electronic miniaturisation and associated performance capability;
19
The recent appearance on the market of new small launchers (e.g. through the use of modified military
missiles to launch small satellites);
The possibility of ‘independence’ in space (small satellites can provide an affordable way for many
countries to achieve Earth Observation and/or defence capability, without relying on inputs from the
major space-faring nations);
Ongoing reduction in mission complexity as well as in those costs associated with management; with
meeting safety regulations etc.
Small mission platforms can flight-demonstrate and qualify new equipment, sensors and systems cheaply and
derive meaningful results in a short time (relative to what pertained in the case of early, essentially large,
missions) NASA’s “faster, better, cheaper” approach, as well as the program of the Institute of Space and
Aeronautical Sciences (ISAS) Japan in mounting a plethora of scientific missions of ‘small’ class, were cited
as examples of the philosophy in action at Space Agency level. A reduction in the size of satellites was
further noted among commercial Earth Observation missions, - with fewer, smaller instruments custom
configured to provide full services for specific, and national, user communities (as compared with, say, the
large Land Remote-Sensing (LANDSAT) satellites; ESA’s ENVISAT and Meteorological Operational
(MetOp) Service and the French Systeme pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT) type satellites).
Overall it was concluded that small spacecraft, through exploiting advanced technology (featuring larger
payload mass in relation to the total mass of the spacecraft; reduced development time and that reduction in
launch costs accruing to the reduced size and mass of the satellite bus), provide an attractive solution in the
matter of serving the needs of Developing Countries.
3.2.1.4.3 Complementarity of Large and Small Satellite Missions
The new methodologies and techniques developed for small satellites are often later flown on major
missions. Also, small satellites provide more frequent and varied mission opportunities; more rapid
expansion of the relevant technical knowledge base; greater involvement of local industry and greater
diversification of potential users.
Some problems are, however, better addressed using large platforms. For example, geo-stationary satellites
were, in 1999, tending to increase in mass This was because the number of positions available in geo-
stationary orbit is limited and because it was perceived at the time that a longer spacecraft lifetime would
increase the financial return on the investment level concerned.
On the other hand, some applications, can be better solved through the use of distributed systems (e.g. by
employing constellations of either micro-satellites or small satellites suitably configured to achieve global
cover). Yet other situations call for centralised systems (for example through: the employment of: a large
optical instrument such as the Space Telescope; using high power, direct broadcast, communications systems
etc.).
3.2.1.4.4 Small Satellite Management
It was noted at UNISPACE III that experience shows that small teams (25 persons) working in close
proximity, having good communications and lead by well informed responsive management, provide the best
structure for producing a small satellite within budget while also successfully meeting performance and
delivery targets. Such teams are typically found in small companies or research groups rather than in large
aerospace organisations - which latter find it difficult to modify those in-house procedures put in place for
large projects.
3.2.1.4.5 Scope of Small Satellite Applications
Already in 1999 it was usual to consider solving problems in the areas of: Telecommunications; Earth
Observations; Agricultural Land Use; Environmental Protection; Testing/validation of new technologies and
Academic Training by means of small satellites. Appendix 1 summarises the following application aspects
given in the UN documents:
Telecommunication
Earth Observation
Scientific Research on Small Satellites
20
Technology Demonstration
Academic Training
Low Cost Launches
Launch access
Ground Segment
Economic Benefits
International Cooperation
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
3.2.1.5 Recommendations of UNISPACE III
The general recommendations of UNISPACE III are articulated in a resolution entitled The Space
Millennium Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development and these recommendations were
endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 54/68 of 6 December 1999.
It was in particular recommended, inter alia, that the joint development, construction and operation of a
variety of small satellites offering opportunities to develop indigenous space industry should be undertaken
as a suitable project for enabling space research, technology demonstrations and related applications in
communications and Earth Observations.
To establish a means to realize this recommendation, the OOSA substantially extended its existing
cooperation with the Subcommittee on Small Satellites for Developing Nations of the IAA. Information
about the cooperating IAA subcommittees and the joint Workshops are given in Appendix 2, summarising
the following cooperative activities:
IAA Subcommittee on Small Satellites for Developing Nations
IAA Subcommittee on Small Satellites for Countries Emerging in Space Technology
UN/IAA Workshop (Brazil, 2000)
UN/IAA Workshop (France, 2001)
UN/IAA Workshop (Houston, 2002)
UN/IAA Workshop (Bremen, 2003)
UN/IAA Workshop (Vancouver, 2004)
3.2.1.6 Conclusions
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) set up by the General Assembly in 1959
currently forms the focal point of United Nations activities in the field of outer space. This Committee (with
its two Subcommittees) has, since its inception, promoted international co-operation in developing the
peaceful exploitation of outer space, in this regard functioning successfully against the changing political
background characterising the transition from the pre to the post cold-war era.
The Office for Outer Space Affairs provided the substantive secretariat for three United Nations Conferences
on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE I, II and III), held in 1968, 1982 and 1999 respectively. At
UNISPACE III, it was recommended, inter alia, that the joint development, construction and operation of a
variety of small satellites offering opportunities to develop indigenous space industry, should be undertaken
as a suitable project for enabling space research, technology demonstrations and related applications in
communications and Earth Observations.
Countries ‘Emerging in Space Technology’ are defined to be those with a technical knowledge base and
some space experience which are striving for small satellite missions to exploit the new, cost effective,
possibilities they offer. An IAA Subcommittee was formed in 1997 to support the aspirations of this multi-
national community. Structures within COPUOS to support these countries in their efforts to gain access to
space using small economical satellites, still require to be established.
Since UNISPACE III, five Workshops held respectively in Brazil, 2000, France, 2001, the U.S.A. 2002,
Germany, 2003 and Canada, 2004, aimed at progressing the general theme of Small Satellites in the Service
of Developing Countries, have been jointly mounted by the UN/OOSA and the Subcommittee on Small
Satellites for Developing Nations of the IAA within the framework of the IAC. These Workshops have acted
21
as tools to progress the aspirations of Developing Countries with respect to the acquisition of small satellite
technology. The individual workshops considered in this regard the Latin-American Experience, the African
Perspective and how, in general, small satellite programs contribute to the development within particular
countries of their indigenous scientific and applications programs. Recommendations for future work were,
on each occasion, formulated.
3.2.1.7 Useful Background Reading
Acta Astronautica, Vol. 43, 1998, contains selected papers from the Workshop on Small Satellites for
European Countries Emerging in Space Technology (Maynooth, 1996). See S. McKenna-Lawlor, pp. 545-
555 for an account of those circumstances attending the setting up of a Subcommittee of the IAA to cater for
the needs of countries emerging in space technology
Background Paper (No. 9) Small Satellite Missions - for the Third United Nations Conference on the
Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. United Nations Document A/CONF. 184/BP/9
Proceedings of a Workshop of the IAA on Small Satellites for European Countries Emerging in Space
Technology held at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland, 7-10 May, 1996, Vols. 1-2. Ed. S. McKenna-
Lawlor Published by Space Technology Ireland, Ltd., 1996
Report of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
(Vienna, 19-30 July 1999). United Nations Document A/CONF. 184/6
Report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, General Assembly, Official Records, Fifty--
Seventh Session, Supplement No. 20. United Nations Document (A/57/20)
Report of the United Nations/International Academy of Astronautics Workshop on Small Satellites at the
Service of Developing Countries the Latin American Experience (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 5 October, 2001).
Document A/ AC 105/745
Report of the Second United Nations/International Academy of Astronautics Workshop on Small Satellites at
the Service of Developing Countries the African Perspective (Toulouse, France, 2 October, 2001). Document
A/ AC 105/772
Report of the Third United Nations/International Academy of Astronautics Workshop on Small Satellites at
the Service of Developing Countries Beyond Technology Transfer (Houston, U.S., October 12, 2002).
Document A/ AC 105/799
Report of the Fourth United Nations/International Academy of Astronautics Workshop on Small Satellites at
the Service of Developing Countries: a contribution to sustainable development (Bremen, Germany, 19
September, 2003. Document A/AC, 105, 813
Report of the Fifth United National/International Academy of Astronautics Workshop on Small Satellites at
the Service of Developing Countries: current and planned small satellite programs (Vancouver, Canada, 5
October, 2004). In press
Acknowledgement; The author thanks the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs at Vienna for
kindly making the report of the Fifth Workshop in the series on Small Satellites at the Service of Developing
Countries available in advance of publication.
3.2.2 CEOS
3.2.2.1 General Information
The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), established in 1984, is charged with coordinating
international civil spaceborne missions designed to observe and study planet Earth. Comprising 43 space
agencies and other national and international organizations, CEOS is recognized as the major international
forum for the coordination of Earth observation satellite programs and for interaction of these programs with
users of satellite data and information worldwide. CEOS works on the principle of “best efforts”
22
contributions and is managed through a permanent Secretariat, Plenary meetings, and a number of Working
Groups. The CEOS Chairmanship rotates annually among its Members.
The goals of CEOS are to:
Optimize the benefits of spaceborne Earth observations through cooperation of its Members in mission
planning and in the development of compatible data products, formats, services, applications and
policies;
Aid both its Members and the international user community by inter alia serving as the focal point for
international coordination of space-related Earth observation activities, including those related to global
change;
Exchange policy and technical information to encourage complementarity and compatibility among
spaceborne Earth observations systems currently in service or development, and the data received from
them; issues of common interest across the spectrum of Earth observations satellite missions are
addressed.
For detailed information about CEOS, its history, activities, structure and documents, visit the
CEOS Web site: http://www.ceos.org
3.2.2.2 Structures and Activities related to the position paper subject
CEOS’s Subsidiary Groups comprise three Working Groups and the SIT (see Figure 3.2-1).
Working Group on Information Systems and Services (WGISS)
The objective of WGISS is to facilitate and coordinate Earth observation data and information management
and services, which are essential elements of successful Earth observation programs, throughout CEOS
agencies. WGISS seeks to furnish data providers and users with harmonized and coordinated data and
information systems, on a global scale, that easily and efficiently supply access to data, information, and
services.
WGISS has two subgroups:
Technology and Services Subgroup
Projects and Applications Subgroup
Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV)
WGCV is the second standing Working Group. The ultimate goal of the WGCV is to ensure long-term
confidence in the accuracy and quality of Earth observation data and products.
WGCV has two specific tasks:
sensor-specific calibration and validation, and
geophysical parameter and derived product validation.
WGCV has the following subgroups:
Atmospheric Chemistry Subgroup
Infrared and Visible Optical Sensors (IVOS) Subgroup
Land Product Validation (LPV) Subgroup
Microwave Sensors (MS) Subgroup
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Subgroup
Terrain Mapping (TM) Subgroup
Working Group on Earth Observation Education and Training (WG-EDU)
The goals of the ad hoc working group on Earth Observation Education and Training (WGEdu) are as
follows:
Enable CEOS to promote and facilitate activities that substantially overarch and enhance international
cooperation in education and training.
23
Strategic Implementation
Team (SIT)
Chair: EUMETSAT
Working Group on
Information Systems
Chair: CCRS
Working Group
on Education and
Training (WGEdu)
Chair: UNOOSA
Working Group on
Calibration and
Validation (WGCV)
Chair: ESA/ESRIN
Secretariat
CEOS Chair, ESA,
NASA/NOAA, NASDA,
Committee on Earth
Observation Satellites (Plenary)
Technology and Services
(BNSC/QinetiQ)
Projects and Applications
(ESA)
Terrain Mapping
(U. K./U. College)
Microwave Sensors
(ESA/ESTEC)
Synthetic Aperture
Radar (NASA)
Infrared/Visible Optical
Sensors (ESA/ESTEC)
Land Surface Parameter
Validation
(NASA/GSFC, DLR)
Atmospheric Chemistry
(NASA/GSFC)
Maximize benefits of the use of Earth observing satellite data and information in the sustainable
management of natural and managed resources, global change research, weather and ocean state
databases, ocean color applications, and basic and applied research to foster new knowledge.
Facilitate the improvement of data availability and access, the transfer of satellite data processing and
data interpretation methodology, the integration of satellite-derived data with other geospatial data
streams, and the improvement of the training infrastructure necessary to support operational and
strategic decisionmaking.
The Strategic Implementation Team (SIT)
The CEOS Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) was created in 1996 to advance the involvement of CEOS
in the development of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS). The SIT comprises CEOS Member
Principals with the authority to commit agency support to initiatives as they unfold. The SIT’s purpose is to
define, characterize, and develop the vision for CEOS’s participation in IGOS, to define and coordinate the
space component of IGOS, and to address, with the relevant IGOS Partners, the interface between the space
component and the in situ component.
Figure 3.2-1: Structure CEOS
3.2.3 ESA Smallsat Initiatives
ESA has for many years surveyed the possible market for Smallsat missions (for example the Smallsat
Mission Opportunity study conducted in the early 90’s) but they have yet to embrace the development of
such a mission -with the notable exception of the Technology Satellite Proba 1, believing such technology to
be more appropriate for individual member states. However in the late 90’s ESA’s new Earth Observation
Envelope Programme undertook a new approach to programme development with the creation of their Earth
Explorer and Earth Watch initiatives.
24
Taking each in turn:
Earth Explorer
Earth Explorer is targeted very much at quick science through coordinated academic, industrial and Agency
developments to deliver single shot missions that can answer challenging earth science questions. While
costs for such missions have tended to be larger than initially anticipated (due often to more complex
instrumentation than the satellite) they have successfully demonstrated a fast-track approach versus previous
“traditional” systems such as ERS and Envisat. However programmes such as Cryosat, GOCE and AEOLUS
cannot truly be said to be “small”.
Nevertheless as the promise of faster missions becomes accepted (nominally a mission every 1-2 years) earth
science expert groups are now proposing smallsats for their data collection. This has led to two genuine
smallsats being assessed at Phase A for a future Explorer. These are the ACE+ and SWARM mission
initiatives:
ACE+
The Atmosphere and Climate Explorer mission (ACE+) would measure variations and changes in
atmospheric temperature and water vapour distribution. Comprising 4 microsatellites flying as two pairs in
the same orbital plane but at two different altitudes, ACE+ will demonstrate a highly innovative approach
using radio occultation to establish accurate global profiles of temperature in the troposphere, and water
vapour in the troposphere and stratosphere.
The use of two satellites in each of the two non-sun synchronous orbits is designed to maximise geographical
coverage. The satellites in the 650 km orbit will counter-rotate with respect to the satellites in the 850 km
orbit. The counter-rotation is needed for cross-link occultations between the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites
of the ACE+ mission, also called LEO-LEO cross-link. Consequently, the orbits all have a 90° inclination.
Each satellite carries instrumentation in order to fulfill the two main functions:
a precision L-band receiver and related antennas for GNSS occultations,
a precision X/K-band transmitter or receiver and related antennas for LEO-LEO occcultations.
SWARM
The objective of the Swarm mission is to provide a survey of the geomagnetic field and its temporal
evolution. The concept consists of a constellation of four satellites in two different polar orbits between 400
and 550 km altitude. High-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength and direction of the
magnetic field will be provided by each satellite. In combination, they will provide the necessary
observations that are required to model various sources of the geomagnetic field. GPS receivers, an