Space satellite network design and operation have become more challenging following emerging advanced applications and the increased number of satellites launched into the Earth orbit each year. This has also occasioned an obvious concern for space situational awareness management, interplanetary communications, post-launch reengineering and post-mission reapplications of spacecraft; these all require adaptive, reconfigurable and multifunctional space systems and networks. Enormous advances aimed at making spacecraft systems reconfigurable, reliable, broadband, and multifunctional have been patented. Consequently, recent space technology patents in reconfigurable and autonomous system designs and architectures have been studied and qualified. This paper presents a reconfigurable space satellite network design that uses cooperative space-borne systems to complement ground-based enhancements. Each network node employs the deterministic multifunctional architecture with packet router interface switch matrix platforms. The reconfigurable cooperative intelligent control (RCIC) design exploits the deterministic and reconfigurable property of field programmable gate array to offer in-situ autonomous control. Four reliable and adaptive space control capability modes have been identified for a robust space satellite network. Furthermore, the control capability has been analysed with recourse to satellite generations. Consequently, a case study reconfigurable space network covering femtosatellites to minisatellites has been designed. The analysis presented in this work promises to enhance small satellite formation and constellations designs and applications. It also enables real-time space surveillance and provides platforms for the reuse of decommissioned satellite systems.
Keywords: Formation flying, highly adaptive small satellite, intelligent control, space mission, Space satellite, fragmentation debris, Commercial space, Earth Orbit, Satellite Classifications, RCIC
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