Microcosm has developed a family of low cost, highly agile spacecraft that can support a range of missions in low, medium, and geosynchronous Earth orbits, along with interplanetary missions. The designs are based on an all composite unibody bus structure that incorporates a combined propellant tank and payload structure that acts as a single component. It is very strong and stiff so that it can be launched on virtually any type of launch vehicle. Further, it can be modified in size and shape very easily, quickly, and at a low non-recurring cost to accommodate a broad range of possible customer payloads.
Because of its multiple km/s of delta V capability, the low Earth orbit (LEO) baseline satellite can orbit very low for extended periods of time (> 2 years) and can accommodate various sensors that benefit in particular by operating at low altitudes. For passive sensors, the benefit from operating at low altitudes is 1:1, which means that, for example, a factor of 4 decrease in altitude results in a factor of 4 decrease in aperture diameter to get the same resolution. For active sensors, the benefit from operating at low altitudes is 1:R4, which means that a factor of 4 decrease in altitude results in a factor of 256 decrease in power to get the same performance. In both cases, there is a corresponding major cost reduction benefit.
By substituting radiation hardened electronics, medium Earth orbit (MEO), geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), and interplanetary missions can be supported. MEO communications satellite missions represent one class of missions that could involve as few as 3 satellites with crosslink capability to provide low cost continuous worldwide communications coverage. At GEO, with 4 satellites in a unique orbit, MicroEye (with radiation hardened electronics) could provide unique space situational awareness monitoring capabilities in GEO (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information) . Microcosm also has designed an interplanetary variant called Hummingbird, that could be used for low cost missions to explore Mars, Mars’ moons, and asteroids, with the addition of a focusing mechanism to the optics.