Since 1963 and the launch of Syncom II, the first geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) telecommunications satellite, the GEO orbit has become significantly more crowded (“Harold Rosen,” 2000). With over hundreds of satellites now crowding the orbit, multi-national satellite operations agencies are researching new methods of tracking GEO satellites and debris (“Traffic management in,” 2008). Even with several ground-based space tracking systems across the world, many items in the GEO belt are lost or untracked.
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The world needs a better system of tracking objects in GEO. Military and civilian agencies in the United States have identified a requirement for a “more precise means of tracking objects in the GEO belt.” The intent of this paper is to detail the engineering requirements associated with a space-based GEO tracking capability, the Supersynchronous Tracking Device (STD).
STD will be a system designed to provide mapping the geosynchronous belt in order to provide more detailed understanding of the GEO belt for collision avoidance. This mission is designed to provide Space Situational Awareness (SSA) to a multi-national forum. As a secondary mission, STD will track U.S. high-interest objects in the geosynchronous belt. For these missions, STD is defined as a satellite system that will operate at a super synchronous altitude, have a sensor capable of mapping and tracking objects at GEO, provide a 24/7 relay data to a ground station, and provide on-board filtering of data in order to prioritize change detection.
Stakeholders are identified as any company involved in the ownership or operations of space systems GEO belt and US space tracking agencies. As the need for GEO belt mapping gains dimension as a global necessity, STD will offer a new solution for international integration of space situational awareness (SSA). However, as the need for super synchronous tracking of GEO systems is not yet fully understood, STD will initially offer SSA to U.S. and coalition partners. STD architecture will be comprised of a satellite system, ground system, and a command and control system. The satellite system will map the geosynchronous belt to provide a more robust understanding of the locations of all GEO systems. Furthermore, the satellites within the STD architecture will provide tracking of high-interest objects in the geosynchronous belt to stakeholders involved in owning and operating in the GEO belt and US space tracking agencies. A brief description of the STD initial requirements architecture is found in Appendix 1. Of the two architectures analyzed, STD Simplex II is the option that best suites the stakeholders. Simplex II is comprised of Space, Ground, and Launch segments. The space segment has been divided into subsystem requirements to include: more complex systems – anticipated to be larger than 500 kg, smaller constellation of satellites – anticipated to be less than 10 satellites,
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