Conceptual Framework for a Rapid Space Launch Capability Open Access
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Launches of satellites require years of advance planning leading to lower national and economic security posture. A new construct is required for rapidly enabling access to space for global urgent mission needs. A new construct is required for effectively enabling a launch of a satellite to orbit in 24 hours or less. This long duration and high cost process is resulting in a barrier and congestion in placing crucial space assets into space. The current space mission planning process takes on an average of 24 months to plan, from customer initial meeting with launch provider to launch day, for new missions, with launch activities taking several weeks. Current satellite customers require launches of their satellites in 24 hours or less in response to natural disasters, rescue missions, communications outages, or urgent military tactical needs. So, what activities could be performed in advance of launch day, able to be placed “on the shelf” in a launch readiness storage state, enabling a rapid launch to orbit mission (e.g. 24 hours or less)? Assuming those prior efforts have been successfully accomplished and maintained, in the form of agreements, mission associated data, satellites built and sitting in flyable storage, what launch process construct could be developed to enable a rapid launch to orbit with a critical payload(s)? This latter problem statement is the focus of this study, a rapid launch process for space.Practical applications of this proposed construct include, in response to a natural disaster, an agency would be able to restore communications over a region for medical and rescue personnel with orbital cell-towers, or be able to place electro-optical sensors over a region for rapid damage assessments with orbital telescopes. Other examples include timely delivery of supplies directly to personnel in need, or in response to volcanic eruptions threatening populated areas, unattended sensors can rapidly be delivered to around the rim of the volcanoes (suborbital payloads example, using reentry coronal capsules).Research methodologies performed include modeling of rapid launch process Monte Carlo simulations and expert elicitation for model validation. An executable timeline model has been developed for simulating this framework.