Spacecraft Formation, Orbit, Or Interplanetary Path Patents (Class 244/158.4)
  • Patent number: 10368251
    Abstract: The disclosed system comprises one or more small satellites (e.g., CubeSats), one or more ground transmitters, and one or more downlink receivers to facilitate ground-to-space short-burst data communications. The CubeSats are miniaturized or small-form satellites that orbit the Earth transmitting data to and from the ground transmitters and the downlink receivers in low Earth orbit. To efficiently use its surface area, in various embodiments, the CubeSats are designed with deployable and folding wings such that the zenith-pointing side of the wings comprises solar panels and the nadir-pointing side of the wings comprises an antenna. In various embodiments, to increase the data transmission capacity of the CubeSats, the CubeSats comprise a deployable phased array antenna and a software defined radio.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 25, 2017
    Date of Patent: July 30, 2019
    Assignee: SPACEWORKS ENTERPRISES, INC.
    Inventors: John Olds, Kevin Feld, Mark Schaffer, Alexander Cheu
  • Patent number: 10364051
    Abstract: A stationkeeping strategy for a satellite disposed in a TAP orbit includes controlling parameters of the orbit such that, for a constellation of two satellites disposed in the orbit, the constellation provides substantially continuous coverage of a polar region. The stationkeeping strategy includes one or more of: establishing an initial Right Ascension of Ascending Node (RAAN) of the operational orbit such that naturally caused orbital drift results in a mid-life RAAN of approximately 0 degrees (360 degrees); and controlling Argument of Perigee (ARGP), only indirectly, by performing orbit maintenance maneuvers only to directly control one or more of the operational orbit apogee altitude, the operational orbit perigee altitude, and inclination within a respective required range.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 15, 2016
    Date of Patent: July 30, 2019
    Assignee: Space Systems/Loral, LLC
    Inventor: Andrew E. Turner
  • Patent number: 10361773
    Abstract: A satellite system may have a constellation of communications satellites that provides services to users with electronic devices such as portable electronic devices and home and office equipment. A network operations center may use gateways to communicate with the satellite constellation. The satellite constellation may include sets of satellites with different orbits such as circular orbits with different inclinations, sets of satellites with elliptic orbits, sets of satellites with circular orbits of different altitudes including low earth orbits, medium earth orbits, and/or geosynchronous orbits, and/or sets of satellites with other orbits. The satellite orbits of the satellites in the satellite constellation may be selected to provide coverage to desired user population concentrations at different locations on the earth without using an excessive number of satellites.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 8, 2017
    Date of Patent: July 23, 2019
    Inventors: Robert Vaughan, Greg Busche, Brett Poirier, Robert Hawkins
  • Patent number: 10329034
    Abstract: A constellation of Earth-orbiting spacecraft includes a first spacecraft disposed in a first orbit, a second spacecraft disposed in a second orbit, and a third spacecraft disposed in a third orbit. Each of the first orbit, the second orbit and the third orbit is substantially circular with a radius of approximately 42,164 km, and has a specified inclination with respect to the equator within a range of 5° to 20°. The first orbit has a first right ascension of ascending node RAAN1, the second orbit has a second RAAN (RAAN2) approximately equal to RAAN1+120°, and the third orbit has a third RAAN (RAAN3) approximately equal to RAAN1+240°. A fourth spacecraft is disposed in a fourth orbit that has a period of approximately one sidereal day, an inclination of less than 2°, a perigee altitude of at least 8000 km, and an eccentricity between approximately 0.4 and 0.66.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 23, 2017
    Date of Patent: June 25, 2019
    Assignee: Space Systems/Loral, LLC
    Inventors: Darren R. Stratemeier, Andrew E. Turner
  • Patent number: 10158427
    Abstract: A laser communication system its integrated microradian-accuracy Acquisition and Tracking Sensor (ATS) to perform a celestial navigation fix to determine the attitude of the laser communications payload, including the integrated ATS and the co-boresighted laser beam, prior to establishing a laser communication link with a second vehicle such as a high-altitude aircraft or satellite. The laser communication system may use a legacy platform INS to initially point its narrow FOV ATS at one or more stars to obtain the vehicle's attitude therefrom. Then the precision payload attitude determined with the ATS star tracker fix is used to point the co-boresighted laser beam to establish a laser communications link with the second vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 13, 2017
    Date of Patent: December 18, 2018
    Assignee: BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc.
    Inventor: Robert T. Carlson
  • Patent number: 9793979
    Abstract: A method for reducing expected switchovers in antennas tracking at least one satellite. The method predicts an operation of a predetermined number of subsets of antennas during a simulated time interval. The subsets are derived from at least three antennas. Each of the at least three antennas has a field of view and is operative to selectively receive signals from and selectively transmit signals to a satellite in the respective field of view. The method determines, based on the predicted operation, an expected number of switchovers for each of the subsets during the simulated time interval. The method selects a selected subset from the subsets for communicating with the satellite. The selection of the selected subset is based on the expected number of switchovers.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 21, 2015
    Date of Patent: October 17, 2017
    Assignee: ORIBT COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS LTD.
    Inventors: Azriel Yakubovitch, Peter Bronshtein, Stav Gizunterman
  • Patent number: 9643739
    Abstract: Methods and apparatus to methods and apparatus for performing propulsion operations using electric propulsion system are disclosed. An example method includes deploying a space vehicle including an electric propulsion system; and using the electric propulsion system for attitude control and orbit control, no other propulsion system provided to enable the attitude control and the orbit control.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 17, 2015
    Date of Patent: May 9, 2017
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: James J. Peterka, III, Glenn N. Caplin, Richard W. Aston
  • Patent number: 9585150
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for operating one or more satellites in a non-geosynchronous orbit (NGSO) satellite constellation are disclosed. In some aspects, a coverage area on Earth for a first beam transmitted from a first satellite in the NGSO satellite constellation may be determined, a cone may be projected onto a first region of the beam coverage area, a second region of the beam coverage area may be defined as including portions of the beam coverage area lying outside the first region, and a minimum arc angle for each of a plurality of points within the first region but not the second region of the beam coverage area may be determined.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 24, 2015
    Date of Patent: February 28, 2017
    Assignee: QUALCOMM Incorporated
    Inventors: Gene Wesley Marsh, Qiang Wu, Peter John Black, Dan Vassilovski, Mehmet Izzet Gurelli
  • Patent number: 9533774
    Abstract: Techniques for placing a satellite into a highly inclined elliptical operational orbit (HIEO) having an argument of perigee of 90° or 270° include executing an orbit transfer strategy that transfers the satellite from a launch vehicle deployment orbit to the operational orbit. The launch vehicle deployment orbit is selected to have an argument of perigee of approximately 90° greater than the argument of perigee of the operational orbit, and to be substantially lower than the operational orbit. The orbit transfer strategy includes (i) an apsidal rotation of approximately 90°, at least a substantial part of the apsidal rotation being attained without expenditure of any satellite propellant; and (ii) an electric orbit raising maneuver to attain an apogee altitude and a perigee altitude required by the HIEO.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 26, 2016
    Date of Patent: January 3, 2017
    Assignee: Space Systems/Loral, LLC
    Inventor: Andrew E. Turner
  • Patent number: 9511881
    Abstract: A plurality of orbiting solar generators stay in constant touch. They can be congregated rapidly in space at any desired secret location. Once congregated selected members of the group focus their energy to a death star. This death star could be a newly launched ICBM with a giant capacitor and a means to connect this capacitor to the selected members of the group of orbiting solar generators. A laser generator uses this giant capacitor energy to project a non-nuclear laser death ray to a target. The target could be a city, a ship or a satellite. In the event of an asteroid approaching earth, this system could destroy an asteroid. In peacetime, the orbiting solar generators may supply electric power to an earth based power grid or other space vehicles.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 3, 2015
    Date of Patent: December 6, 2016
    Inventor: Rick Martin
  • Patent number: 9499284
    Abstract: A multi-functional optical subsystem for a spacecraft includes a laser diode module having output optics; an imaging and communication detector assembly; and a forward metering structure. The multi-functional optical subsystem is adapted for laser-based optical communication and attitude determination. According to embodiments, the subsystem fits within a small satellite having less than about 20 kg mass and less than about 10,000 cm3 total volume.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 18, 2014
    Date of Patent: November 22, 2016
    Assignee: Planetary Resources Development Corp.
    Inventors: Chris Voorhees, Chris Lewicki
  • Patent number: 9365299
    Abstract: Techniques for placing a satellite into a highly inclined elliptical operational orbit having an argument of perigee of 90° or 270° include executing an orbit transfer strategy that transfers the satellite from a launch vehicle deployment orbit to the operational orbit. The launch vehicle deployment orbit is selected to have an argument of perigee of approximately 90° greater than the argument of perigee of the operational orbit, an apogee altitude of approximately 14000 km and a perigee altitude of approximately 500 km. The orbit transfer strategy includes (i) an apsidal rotation of approximately 90°, at least a substantial part of the apsidal rotation being attained without expenditure of any satellite propellant; and (ii) an electric orbit raising maneuver to attain an apogee altitude and a perigee altitude required by the HIEO.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 9, 2014
    Date of Patent: June 14, 2016
    Assignee: Space Systems/Loral, LLC
    Inventor: Andrew E. Turner
  • Patent number: 9363712
    Abstract: A system comprises a constellation of satellites placed in non-geostationary orbit, user terminals located in a coverage area, and N anchor stations able to ensure bidirectional communications with the user terminals by way of at least one satellite. The system furthermore comprises a network of routers interconnected with one another and to the Worldwide Internet Network, each anchor station is connected to the Worldwide Internet Network by way of a router, and each anchor station comprises a management device for managing the handovers to ensure service continuity for the communications. This management device is able to control the handovers between the successive orbiting satellites progressing over the coverage area, the handovers between anchor stations, or the handovers between simultaneously successive satellites and anchor stations.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 6, 2014
    Date of Patent: June 7, 2016
    Assignee: Thales
    Inventors: Nicolas Chuberre, Judith Cote, Jean-Jacques Bruniera, Patrick Benard, Dominique Potuaud
  • Patent number: 9319905
    Abstract: Example methods and systems for assigning tasks to balloons within a balloon network are described. One example system includes a first sub-fleet of balloons assigned a first set of one or more tasks within a balloon network, a second sub-fleet of balloons assigned a second set of one or more tasks within the balloon network, and a control system configured to determine that a first balloon in the first sub-fleet of balloons initially has a predicted failure mode that corresponds to the first set of tasks, subsequently determine that the first balloon has a predicted failure mode that corresponds to the second set of tasks, and reassign the first balloon from the first sub-fleet of balloons to the second sub-fleet of balloons.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 30, 2013
    Date of Patent: April 19, 2016
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Keith Bonawitz, Joshua Weaver, Richard DeVaul
  • Patent number: 9309010
    Abstract: A first inclination vector associated with a first satellite of the plurality of satellites is established. A second inclination vector associated with a second satellite of the plurality of satellites is established. The first satellite and the second satellite are controlled, such that the first satellite and the second satellite are synchronized with a node.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 10, 2014
    Date of Patent: April 12, 2016
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventor: Yiu-hung M. Ho
  • Patent number: 9297699
    Abstract: A method of calibrating a spectrometer, while orbiting the Earth, includes the steps of (a) determining a period of time in which the Moon is within a field of view (FOV) of the spectrometer and (b) stopping the FOV of the spectrometer during this period of time. During this period of time, multiple “free views” of the Moon are available, in which lunar IR intensities may be received by the spectrometer that are comparable to intensity levels obtained from an internal calibration test (ICT) on a satellite. The method measures the IR radiance from the Moon during this period of time. After filtering the lunar IR radiances by an integral function, the spectrometer is calibrated using the “free views” as a benchmark.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 12, 2013
    Date of Patent: March 29, 2016
    Assignee: Exelis, Inc.
    Inventor: Grant Matthews
  • Patent number: 9038957
    Abstract: A system has a plurality of spacecraft in orbit around the earth for collecting energy from the Sun in space, using stimulated emission to configure that energy as well defined states of the optical field and delivering that energy efficiently throughout the region of space surrounding Earth.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 12, 2012
    Date of Patent: May 26, 2015
    Assignee: The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama, for and on behalf of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
    Inventor: Richard Fork
  • Publication number: 20150102173
    Abstract: A method of solar occultation, and in particular solar coronagraphy, employing a spacecraft 200 is disclosed. The spacecraft is controlled to achieve a position within a target zone relative to a celestial body, such as the Moon, such that the celestial body occults the Sun, allowing observations of the Sun or the space around the Sun, and in particular the Sun's corona, to be made from the spacecraft. The spacecraft has an orbit 40 around the Earth in a plane S, which like the Moon's orbit 20 in plane M, is inclined relative to the ecliptic plane E. Once inside the target zone, the spacecraft's orbit is controlled such that it remains in the target zone for longer than it would otherwise. This is achieved through the orbit within the target zone being at least partly non-Keplerian, when the orbit is under the influence of spacecraft translational thrust for example.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 25, 2013
    Publication date: April 16, 2015
    Inventors: Steve Evkersley, Stephen Kemble
  • Patent number: 9004408
    Abstract: A satellite inclination control method is provided. The method includes tracking optimal inclination vector control cycles for a satellite in near geosynchronous orbit, using control rates disposed to counter inclination growth of the satellite, where the control rates include continuously or quasi-continuously firings of a thruster, and where the control rates are disposed to provide convergence to the optimal inclination vector control cycles in the presence of variances in orbit determination, maneuver implementation and orbit propagation modeling errors.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 13, 2011
    Date of Patent: April 14, 2015
    Assignee: Kratos Integral Holdings, LLC
    Inventor: Vaclav Majer
  • Patent number: 8991766
    Abstract: A dozen or more orbiting solar generators stay in constant touch. They can be congregated rapidly in space at any desired secret location. Once congregated they all focus their energy to a death star. This death star is a newly launched ICBM with a microwave or laser collector. A laser generator uses this huge energy to project a non-nuclear death ray to a target. The target could be a city, a ship or a satellite. In the event of an asteroid approaching earth, this system could destroy an asteroid. In peacetime the orbiting solar generators supply electric power to an earth based power grid.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 21, 2014
    Date of Patent: March 31, 2015
    Inventor: Rick Martin
  • Patent number: 8991765
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for generating avoidance data. Strips are generated for a path of a space object. The strips are positioned relative to the path of the space object. The strips have parameters that obscure an identification of the path of the space object to form the avoidance data.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 3, 2012
    Date of Patent: March 31, 2015
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Douglas Edward Chesser, Mario Pio Alleva, Manuel Beltran, Paul H. Smith
  • Patent number: 8991764
    Abstract: A space probe including a descent module with a mobile exploration vehicle, wherein the descent module is a landing module inside which the mobile exploration vehicle is fastened, the landing module being provided with landing legs which can be deployed under the lower level of the mobile exploration vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 5, 2010
    Date of Patent: March 31, 2015
    Assignee: Astrium SAS
    Inventors: Valery Auger, Christophe Balemboy, Robert Andre Laine, Marie-Claire Perkinson
  • Patent number: 8930048
    Abstract: The disclosed method involves calculating, with at least one processor, a desired orbit for the spacecraft. The method further involves calculating a velocity change required to achieve an orbit eccentricity, a velocity change required to achieve a semi-major axis, and a velocity change required to achieve an orbit inclination; all of which correspond to the desired orbit for the spacecraft. Also, the method involves calculating the direction of the vector sum of the velocity change required to achieve the orbit eccentricity, the velocity change required to achieve the semi-major axis, and the velocity change required to achieve the orbit inclination. Further, the method involves activating at least one propulsion device of the spacecraft in the direction of the vector sum in order to change the current orbit of the spacecraft to the desired orbit for the spacecraft, thereby changing the orbit eccentricity, the semi-major axis, and the orbit inclination simultaneously.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 23, 2012
    Date of Patent: January 6, 2015
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Fawwad M. Batla, Yiu-hung M. Ho
  • Publication number: 20140367523
    Abstract: Provided are a space debris removing device and a method which enable easy installation of a deceleration device to space debris undergoing a tumbling motion. The space debris removing device includes: a propulsion device (3) for performing approach and attitude control on target debris (1); a capture device (4) having a harpoon (41) which can be ejected toward the target debris (1); an observation device (5) for calculating a capture position (E) and a capture attitude at which the harpoon (41) can be driven into a tank (11) (hollow portion) of the target debris (1) by observing a motion of the target debris (1); a deceleration device (6) directly or indirectly connected to the harpoon (41), for decelerating the target debris (1); and a body part (21) on which the propulsion device (3), the capture device (4), the observation device (5), and the deceleration device (6) are mounted.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 1, 2012
    Publication date: December 18, 2014
    Applicants: IHI AEROSPACE CO., LTD., IHI CORPORATION
    Inventors: Yukihito Kitazawa, Aritsune Kawabe, Kozue Hashimoto, Mitsuharu Sonehara, Masaru Uji, Shinya Morita, Katsuaki Nomura, Ayumi Nakanishi
  • Patent number: 8825236
    Abstract: A method of determining the reliability of long-term predicted orbit data, includes: determining the reliability of long-term predicted orbit data, which is acquired by predicting a satellite orbit in a target period of at least one day, using predicted position data including predicted positions of a positioning satellite in time series and actual position data including actual positions of the positioning satellite corresponding to the predicted positions.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 9, 2009
    Date of Patent: September 2, 2014
    Assignee: Seiko Epson Corporation
    Inventor: Kyoichi Tomita
  • Publication number: 20140240497
    Abstract: A satellite constellation includes a plurality of satellites in respective polar orbits. The orbits are spaced evenly in longitude and the satellites of adjacent orbits are spaced evenly in latitude. On board each satellite is one or more sensors for monitoring activity within the satellite's field of view.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 20, 2013
    Publication date: August 28, 2014
    Inventor: Mordechai Shefer
  • Patent number: 8800934
    Abstract: A space access system may include a reusable booster limited to sub-orbital operation and having a fuselage. The reusable booster may include a tri-propellant propulsion system which may be configured to shift from a tri-propellant mode of operation to a bi-propellant mode of operation. The tri-propellant propulsion system may include at least one tri-propellant engine and at least one internal propellant tank mounted within the fuselage and being fluidly coupled to the tri-propellant engine. A payload may be mounted with the fuselage. The payload may have an upper stage.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 24, 2012
    Date of Patent: August 12, 2014
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventor: Anthony D. Straw
  • Patent number: 8800932
    Abstract: A method, a member satellite, and a tangible machine-readable medium are disclosed. An inter-satellite link subsystem 472 may maintain a fixed communication link between the member satellite and a partner satellite of the medium earth orbit centric satellite constellation in a regular, wraparound symmetric, spatially dimensional network. A terrestrial linking subsystem 476 may create a terrestrial link to a ground terminal.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 26, 2010
    Date of Patent: August 12, 2014
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Xiangdong Liu, Joshua Schachter
  • Patent number: 8781741
    Abstract: A method of generating orbital transfers for spacecraft. The method provides an innovative technique for transferring spacecraft from one Earth orbit to another Earth orbit using significant solar gravitational influences. In one particular implementation, the multi-bodies in the transfer determination are the Earth (about which the spacecraft is to orbit) and the Sun (e.g., the Earth and the Sun are the first and second celestial bodies providing multi-body dynamics). The transfer orbit or trajectory is determined to make use of efficient tangential maneuvers by leveraging solar gravitational influences to improve transfer performance. Based on the generated transfer orbit, the spacecraft is controlled to perform one or more maneuvers to achieve a transfer orbit that traverses into a regime where the spacecraft's trajectory is significantly affected by gravity from both the Sun and the Earth. The spacecraft performs a near-tangential orbit insertion maneuver to enter the final orbit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 22, 2012
    Date of Patent: July 15, 2014
    Assignee: Geryon Space Technologies
    Inventor: Bradley Cheetham
  • Patent number: 8768622
    Abstract: A technique to assist guidance techniques for a free-flying inspection vehicle for inspecting a host satellite. The method solves analytically in closed form for relative motion about a circular primary for solutions that are non-drifting, i.e., the orbital periods of the two vehicles are equal, computes the impulsive maneuvers in the primary radial and cross-track directions, and parameterizes these maneuvers and obtain solutions that satisfy constraints, for example collision avoidance or direction of coverage, or optimize quantities, such as time or fuel usage. Apocentral coordinates and a set of four relative orbital parameters are used. The method separates the change in relative velocity (maneuvers) into radial and crosstrack components and uses a waypoint technique to plan the maneuvers.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 16, 2013
    Date of Patent: July 1, 2014
    Assignee: The United States of America, as represented by the Secretary of the Navy
    Inventor: Liam M. Healy
  • Patent number: 8757552
    Abstract: A dozen or more orbiting solar generators stay in constant touch. They can be congregated rapidly in space at any desired secret location. Once congregated they all focus their energy to a death star. This death star is a newly launched ICBM with a microwave or laser collector. A laser generator uses this huge energy to project a non-nuclear death ray to a target. The target could be a city, a ship or a satellite. In the event of an asteroid approaching earth, this system could destroy an asteroid. In peacetime the orbiting solar generators supply electric power to an earth based power grid.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 20, 2013
    Date of Patent: June 24, 2014
    Inventor: Rick Martin
  • Patent number: 8657235
    Abstract: The systems and methods of the invention modulate atmospheric gases to temporarily increase the amount of atmospheric particles in the path of the debris, in order to decelerate the debris and accelerate natural orbital decay to the point of atmospheric re-entry. In one aspect of the invention, clearing the space debris includes propelling a plume of atmospheric gases substantially orthogonal to the path of the debris such that the debris collides with the gaseous plume as it passes through the plume. Increased atmospheric drag from the gaseous particles of the plume in the path of the debris obstructs a forward propagation of the debris and gradually decelerates the debris, leading eventually to atmospheric recapture.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 7, 2011
    Date of Patent: February 25, 2014
    Assignee: Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp.
    Inventors: Daniel Alan Gregory, John-Francis Mergen
  • Patent number: 8655589
    Abstract: A motion of an object is controlled from a geostationary transit orbit (GTO) of an earth to an orbit of a moon. A first trajectory of the motion of the object is determined from an intermediate orbit of an earth to a neighborhood of a stable manifold of a first Lagrange point (L1). A second trajectory of the motion of the object is determined from the GTO to the intermediate orbit. A third trajectory of the motion of the object is determined from the neighborhood to the stable manifold to an L1 orbit, and a fourth trajectory of the motion of the object is determined from the L1 orbit to the orbit of the moon. A trajectory from the GTO to the orbit of the moon is determined based on a combination of the first, the second, the third, and the fourth trajectories.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 30, 2012
    Date of Patent: February 18, 2014
    Assignee: Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, Inc.
    Inventors: Piyush Grover, Christian Andersson
  • Patent number: 8608113
    Abstract: A method for capturing a container of planet ground samples moving in space by a probe also moving in space includes, when the probe is on the orbit of the container, at a distance of a few meters therefrom and the receiving face of the probe is oriented toward the container, generating, on board the probe, a first controlled magnetic field to reduce the angular speeds of the container and orient it in a preferred direction for the capture, and, when these speeds have become negligible and the probe is positioned in the correct orientation, while the probe is being brought closer to the container, a process of attraction of the container relative to the probe is begun using another field whose field lines converge toward the capture zone of the probe.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 4, 2009
    Date of Patent: December 17, 2013
    Assignee: Thales
    Inventors: Hervé Renault, Francis Arbusti, Hervé Sainct
  • Patent number: 8583297
    Abstract: A method and a device are provided for the optimization of the mass of a satellite. The method includes: a step of calculation of an elliptical second orbit obtained by rotation of a first orbit about an axis connecting the periapsis and the apoapsis, the elliptical second orbit being associated with a second maximum eclipse duration less than a first maximum eclipse duration; a step of determination of a maneuver enabling the satellite to move to the second orbit; and a step of calculation of a second battery mass making it possible to maintain the satellite in operation during the second maximum eclipse duration and of calculation of a mass of fuel necessary to effect the maneuver.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 18, 2011
    Date of Patent: November 12, 2013
    Assignee: Thales
    Inventors: Vincent Martinot, Olivier Fratacci, Hervé Sainct
  • Patent number: 8511617
    Abstract: A method for implementing a satellite fleet includes launching a group of satellites within a launch vehicle. In an embodiment, the satellites are structurally connected together through satellite outer load paths. After separation from the launch vehicle, nodal separation between the satellites is established by allowing one or more of the satellites to drift at one or more orbits having apogee altitudes below an operational orbit apogee altitude. A satellite is maintained in an ecliptic normal attitude during its operational life, in an embodiment. The satellite's orbit is efficiently maintained by a combination of axial, radial, and canted thrusters, in an embodiment. Satellite embodiments include a payload subsystem, a bus subsystem, an outer load path support structure, antenna assembly orientation mechanisms, an attitude control subsystem adapted to maintain the satellite in the ecliptic normal attitude, and an orbit maintenance/propulsion subsystem adapted to maintain the satellite's orbit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 22, 2009
    Date of Patent: August 20, 2013
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Glenn N. Caplin, Harold A. Rosen, Harmon C. Fowler
  • Patent number: 8511614
    Abstract: A satellite system for observing space objects includes two or more satellites positioned in an Earth orbit and configured to observe objects in various orbits including those viewed (i) against the Earth's background; (ii) against a sunlit Earth background; and (iii) against a space background. An electromagnetic sensor may be provided on at least one of the satellites that is responsive to electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength that discriminates against substantial reflection of electromagnetic radiation from the Earth's atmosphere to observe the space object. A method of observing a space object using a satellite system is also disclosed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 22, 2010
    Date of Patent: August 20, 2013
    Assignee: Raytheon Company
    Inventor: Ian Robinson
  • Patent number: 8480036
    Abstract: A system and method for highly efficient constellations of satellites which give single, double, . . . k-fold redundant full earth imaging coverage, or k-fold coverage for latitudes greater than any selected latitude is given for remote sensing instruments in short periods of time, i.e., continuous coverage, as a function of the parameters of the satellite and the remote sensing instrument for many different types of orbits. A high data rate satellite communication system and method for use with small, mobile cell phone receiving and transmitting stations is also provided. Satellite instrument performance models, full and partial satellite constellation models, and satellite cost models are disclosed and used to optimize the design of satellite systems with vastly improved performance and lower cost over current major satellite systems.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 9, 2012
    Date of Patent: July 9, 2013
    Inventors: C. Laurence Korb, Andrew Robert Korb
  • Patent number: 8459596
    Abstract: A sky/space elevator vehicle for going from the surface of a planet or moon up into space and back again. The vehicle has a single fuselage comprising multiple floor sections including a top and bottom cone. The movement of the vehicle is controlled by helium filled envelops as well as a combined jet and rocket propulsion system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 1, 2009
    Date of Patent: June 11, 2013
    Inventor: Sunstar Im
  • Patent number: 8457810
    Abstract: A method and system for application of a compound steering law for efficient low thrust transfer orbit trajectory for a spacecraft are disclosed. The method involves calculating, with at least one processor, a desired orbit for the spacecraft. The method further involves calculating a velocity change required to achieve an orbit eccentricity and a velocity change required to achieve a semi-major axis, both of which correspond to the desired orbit for the spacecraft. Also, the method involves calculating the direction of the vector sum of the velocity change required to achieve the orbit eccentricity and the velocity change required to achieve the semi-major axis. Further, the method involves firing at least one thruster of the spacecraft in the direction of the vector sum in order to change the current orbit of the spacecraft to the desired orbit for the spacecraft, thereby changing the orbit eccentricity and the semi-major axis simultaneously.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 14, 2011
    Date of Patent: June 4, 2013
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Fawwad M. Batla, Yiu-Hung M. Ho
  • Patent number: 8380370
    Abstract: A system and a method for commanding a spacecraft to perform a three-axis maneuver purely based on “position” (i.e., attitude) measurements. Using an “inertial gimbal concept”, a set of formulae are derived that can map a set of “inertial” motion to the spacecraft body frame based on position information so that the spacecraft can perform/follow according to the desired inertial position maneuvers commands. Also, the system and method disclosed herein employ an intrusion steering law to protect the spacecraft from acquisition failure when a long sensor intrusion occurs.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 18, 2009
    Date of Patent: February 19, 2013
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Dan Y. Liu, Richard Y. Chiang
  • Publication number: 20130032673
    Abstract: Solar power satellite system for transmitting microwave energy to the earth and a method of arranging the solar power satellite system about the sun for same. The solar power satellite system comprises a space-based power generation unit disposed in a planetary orbit about the sun. A photovoltaic cell on the space-based power generation unit collects solar energy that is then converted to microwave energy to be beamed to the earth. A ground-based rectenna receives the microwave energy and converts the microwave energy to electricity that is transmitted to an end user. The solar power satellite system and method provides electrical power on earth day or night and regardless of atmospheric conditions. Also, surface area of the solar panel on the space-based power generation unit orbiting about the sun is much less than the surface area required of a ground-based solar panel or a solar panel in earth orbit.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 3, 2011
    Publication date: February 7, 2013
    Inventor: Satoshi Kobayashi
  • Patent number: 8360367
    Abstract: A system and method for highly efficient constellations of satellites which give single, double, . . . k-fold redundant full earth imaging coverage, or k-fold coverage for latitudes greater than any selected latitude is given for remote sensing instruments in short periods of time, i.e., continuous coverage, as a function of the parameters of the satellite and the remote sensing instrument for many different types of orbits. A high data rate satellite communication system and method for use with small, mobile cell phone receiving and transmitting stations is also provided. Satellite instrument performance models, full and partial satellite constellation models, and satellite cost models are disclosed and used to optimize the design of satellite systems with vastly improved performance and lower cost over current major satellite systems.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 9, 2012
    Date of Patent: January 29, 2013
    Inventors: C. Laurence Korb, Andrew Robert Korb
  • Patent number: 8360366
    Abstract: The present invention is related to a method in the design of constellation of non-geostationary satellites for broadband multimedia communications. A broadband multimedia satellite communication system based on the present invention will not have interference problems with the GEO satellites and terrestrial communications. Users of the system will be able to use very low cost simple automatic tracking antenna to access broadband multimedia services anywhere around the world.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 12, 2010
    Date of Patent: January 29, 2013
    Inventor: Hsin-Hsien Chung
  • Patent number: 8322659
    Abstract: The method for lightening the weight of fuel stowed onboard during an interplanetary mission is characterized in that it consists: in launching (10a) a first orbiter spacecraft (1) from the Earth on a first interplanetary trajectory (31, 33) towards a target planet to be explored, in launching (10b) a second orbiter spacecraft (2) from the Earth on a second interplanetary trajectory (32, 34) towards a rendezvous spot (38), the second interplanetary trajectory not comprising any phase of placing in orbit around the target planet, in recovering a load to be transported and in loading it onto the first orbiter spacecraft (1), in returning the first orbiter spacecraft (1) and the load from the target planet to the rendezvous spot (38), in effecting a docking (14) of the two orbiter spacecraft (1, 2), in returning at least the second orbiter spacecraft (2) and the load, from the rendezvous spot (38) to a terrestrial orbit (41).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 30, 2009
    Date of Patent: December 4, 2012
    Assignee: Thales
    Inventors: Herve Roland Sainct, Xavier Roser, Vincent Martinot
  • Publication number: 20120273621
    Abstract: A system and method for highly efficient constellations of satellites which give single, double, . . . k-fold redundant full earth imaging coverage, or k-fold coverage for latitudes greater than any selected latitude is given for remote sensing instruments in short periods of time, i.e., continuous coverage, as a function of the parameters of the satellite and the remote sensing instrument for many different types of orbits. A high data rate satellite communication system and method for use with small, mobile cell phone receiving and transmitting stations is also provided. Satellite instrument performance models, full and partial satellite constellation models, and satellite cost models are disclosed and used to optimize the design of satellite systems with vastly improved performance and lower cost over current major satellite systems.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 9, 2012
    Publication date: November 1, 2012
    Inventors: C. Laurence Korb, Andrew Robert Korb
  • Publication number: 20120261513
    Abstract: Described herein is a projective optical metrology system including: a light target formed by a first number of light sources having a pre-set spatial arrangement; and an optical unit including an optoelectronic image sensor, which receives a light signal coming from the light target and defines two different optical paths for the light signal towards the optoelectronic image sensor. The two optical paths are such that the light signal forms on the optoelectronic image sensor at most an image of the light target that can be processed for determining at least one quantity indicating the mutual arrangement between the light target and the optical unit.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 5, 2012
    Publication date: October 18, 2012
    Applicant: THALES ALENIA SPACE ITALIA S.P.A. CON UNICO SOCIO
    Inventors: Fulvio Bresciani, Fabio Musso
  • Publication number: 20120223189
    Abstract: [OBJECT] It is an object to solve a problem that a light-emitting element and a large-capacity battery required for allowing light generated from a satellite to be visually observed from the earth lead to enormously high costs. [SOLUTION] The present invention provides a satellite which comprises a reflecting mirror for reflecting sunlight toward the earth, and a transceiver, wherein the transceiver is operable to receive information including at least a position of the sun, a position of the satellite, and an irradiation point on the earth surface to be irradiated with the reflected light, so as to set a direction of a reflecting surface of the reflecting mirror based on the received information, and wherein the satellite is adapted to orient the reflecting surface of the reflecting mirror in the direction set based on the received information.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 29, 2012
    Publication date: September 6, 2012
    Inventor: Hitoshi KUNINAKA
  • Publication number: 20120217348
    Abstract: Embodiments of an Earth observation satellite comprising a satellite main body having an elongated shape extending in the direction of a roll axis R of the satellite from a first base face of the satellite main body to a second base face of the satellite main body, the satellite main body having a plurality of lateral faces extending from the first base face to the second base face; a solar array; and propulsion means for compensating air-drag being arranged on the base face of the satellite main body. A first solar panel of the solar array is mounted on a first lateral face of the satellite main body, a second lateral face of the satellite main body is configured to radiate heat away from the satellite main body, and a third lateral face of the satellite main body has observation means for Earth observations.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 17, 2012
    Publication date: August 30, 2012
    Applicant: EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
    Inventor: Miguel Aguirre Martinez
  • Patent number: 8251315
    Abstract: The present invention relates to a device making it possible to study the solar corona on a space mission requiring the formation flight of two satellites: an occulting satellite (OCC), the role of which is to create an artificial eclipse of the sun from the point of view of a coronagraph (10) onboard a second satellite, called carrying satellite (COR). The invention presents the advantage of proposing a formation flight device intended for a solar coronagraphy mission comprising fixed solar panels (11a), requiring no deployment, thanks to a dissymmetrical accommodation of the coronagraph (10) reflected in a shifting of said coronagraph (10) to a side of the carrying satellite (COR).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 29, 2008
    Date of Patent: August 28, 2012
    Assignee: Thales
    Inventor: Xavier Leyre