How Big is Too Big? Using SAL (Smallsat Affordability in LEO) to Evaluate the Small Satellite Tradespace

March, 2019
IDA document: D-10526
FFRDC: Systems and Analyses Center
Type: Documents
Division: Operational Evaluation Division
Vincent A. Lillard, Project Leader, Matthew R. Avery, Alexander J. Slawik, Geoffrey M. Koretsky See more authors
The Satellite Affordability in LEO (SAL) model identifies the cheapest constellation capable of providing a desired level of performance within certain constraints. SAL achieves this using a combination of analytical models, statistical emulators, and geometric relationships. SAL is flexible and modular, allowing users to customize certain components while retaining default behavior in other cases. This is desirable if users wish to consider an alternative cost formulation or different types of payload. Uses for SAL include examining cost tradeoffs with respect to factors like constellation size and desired performance level, evaluating the sensitivity of constellation costs to different assumptions about cost behavior, and providing a first-pass look at what proliferated smallsats might be capable of. At this point, SAL is limited to Walker constellations with sun-synchronous, polar orbits.