3
$\begingroup$

I was thinking about the answers and comments I got to this question (Can a cubesat be used to qualify parts in space?) and came across one that said satellites can't be fixed once launched into orbit (except for a few exceptions like the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station) because of the extreme cost of launching astronauts.

I got to thinking of the advances in robotics over the past ten years, and how first person view robots have become cheap enough for kids. I know the bandwidth or some regulations may prevent this, and that this wouldn't fix every problem, but could a cubesat with robotic arms be controlled in real-time from the ground via laptop/internet connection?

It seems many of the problems that occur in orbit come down to the satellite having something jammed, clogged, or shorted, and having a satellite with arms would help a lot to fix these problems for lower costs than an astronaut. And since these satellites are near Earth, the time lag issue shouldn't be a problem, so real time control could be done.

*I am not worrying about the delta v issues this satellite would have, that is another whole huge problem for how the cubesat would rendezvous with many crippled satellites to fix them, I am just looking at seeing if the infrastructure exists to allow real time control of satellites by average people with internet connections or satellite phones.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ We can't fix satellites because we don't have the tech anymore, not because of cost. Of course we don't have the tech anymore because of the costs :p $\endgroup$ – Antzi Dec 18 '15 at 7:46
5
$\begingroup$

At a previous employer I set up a live video feed from a cubesat's star camera and hooked up a joystick to the attitude control system. I guess that counts. You only get a few minutes during a groundstation pass and it was a lot slower to respond than an R/C plane!

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

For most of its orbit, a direct radio connection is not possible because you don't have a line of sight to the satellite. So you'd have to set up radio relays on the ground or via other satellites (NASA's TDRSS, for example).

Using a satellite phone is actually not a bad idea. A sat phone would fill most of the space in a 3U cubesat, though. And I don't know how well a sat phone works when it's traveling at orbital speeds. You may have to synchronize the cubesat's orbit with that of the communications satellite.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Folks have looked at using Globalstar to communicate with CubeSats in the past. I expect the delays (even if LEO) would make true R/C type control hard. $\endgroup$ – Carlos N Feb 28 at 19:16
1
$\begingroup$

Fitting all that the equipment you describe into a 1.33 kg spacecraft, like robotic arms and a propulsion system is not possible, nor are cubesats allowed to have propulsion. But your question is not about that, it is about the internet connection. It is nothing wrong about the current systems used for communication with satellites receiving their information via the use of the internet. This is however not likely due to security concerns. The distance should not cause any significant delay, but bandwidth limitation and the redirecting of the commands may give a lag in the order of tens of seconds or minutes.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It seems it isn't that propulsion on cubesats is outright forbidden, simply the restrictions cover compounds of traditional propulsion systems. I believe specifically liquid or solid propellant ion drives would be still allowed. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 17 '16 at 14:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ CubeSats are allowed to have propulsion systems, it just isn't feasible to include one in a 1U design. Among others, both Busek and Aerojet Rocketdyne offer a variety of propulsion systems specifically for CubeSats. $\endgroup$ – yeemonic Feb 16 '16 at 17:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.