Orbits and Coverage

Calculating the orbit of a spacecraft is often computationally complex, but conceptually simple— what is the path of the spacecraft through space? The more complex part is choosing the orbit that we want to use for the spacecraft or constellation. The process involves a number of considerations— such as launch, performance, coverage, and the environment— that have a major impact on mission cost and performance. Microcosm has proposed orbits that provide much better coverage than the typical Sun synchronous orbit,1 orbits that eliminate the growing problem of orbital debris,2 and has literally written the book on orbit and constellation design.3  We would be pleased to work with you on ways to select orbits for your mission that provide the highest utility at the lowest cost. For more information, contact us at missionengineering@smad.com.

Ground trace of a single LEO prograde satellite (green) and a single retrograde satellite (red).  Notice the very wide range of coverage angles and directions of motion.

Ground trace of a single LEO prograde satellite (green) and a single retrograde satellite (red).  Notice the very wide range of coverage angles and directions of motion.

 

1 Wertz, J. R., Microcosm Inc., “Coverage, Responsiveness, and Accessibility for Various ‘Responsive Orbits’,” 3rd AIAA Responsive Space Conference, Los Angeles, CA. Apr. 25–28, 2005.

2 Wertz, J.R., N. Sarzi-Amade, A. Shao, C. Taylor, and R. Van Allen, Microcosm Inc., “Moderately Elliptical Very Low Orbits (MEVLOs) as a Long-Term Solution to Orbital Debris,”  AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites Logan, UT. Aug. 13–16, 2012.

3 Wertz, James R., Hans Meissinger, Lauri K. Newman, Geoffrey N. Smit, Mission Geometry:  Orbit and Constellation Design and Management, Microcosm Press, Segundo, CA 2001, 934 p.