Path to the First Launch of the SL-OMV from the UK

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C. Loghry et al. (2020), JBIS, 73, pp.180-191

Refcode: 2020.73.180
Keywords: CubeSats, Constellation, OMV, Propulsive Adapter, Rideshare, UKSA

Abstract:
The growing number of small launch vehicles, including ones being planned to be launched from the United Kingdom, will lower the cost of space access in the coming years but many challenges remain in utilizing these for small payloads particularly Cubesat missions. Cubesats still have a similar number of concerns as a secondary payload on a larger rocket as they do on a small rocket such as desired orbital location. Constellation phasing creates another challenge without using on-board propulsion or time consuming differential drag strategies. All of these create additional challenges for the mass/cost constrained Cubesat developer. Many of these challenges can be met through the use of a propulsive rideshare adapter or Small Launch Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (SL-OMV). The SL-OMV is a low mass and low cost propulsive adapter that can be used to distribute Cubesat payloads (1U, 3U, 6U, and 12U) with different orbital parameters than the primary payload or each Cubesat with a different orbital destination. This is important for both Rideshare launches but single mission dedicated cluster launches. The SL-OMV can remain on orbit for a longer duration allowing for constellation phasing for payloads. The SL-OMV is designed specifically for these small launchers including vehicles as part of the UK Space Agency (UKSA) LaunchUK initiative to have domestic launch capability by the 2020’s. The SL-OMV can be used on either vertical or horizontal launch configurations for vehicles having 150 kg capability or greater. As part of the program a unit is being developed and will be produced in the United Kingdom for the inaugural launch of the vertical launch option. This will demonstrate that capability in addition to placing six different 6U CubeSats in various orbits leveraging its on-board green propulsion. The SL-OMV can reduce costs for space access using rideshare and enable low cost missions that previously could only be achieved through the expense of a dedicated launch vehicle and propulsive spacecraft. The SL-OMV platform provides mission augmentation and can provide many of the services of a spacecraft bus reducing the cost and complexity of the payload. As the SL-OMV is adaptable to a wide-range of launch applications this can be useful for US launches and European launches as new spaceports come online in particular in the United Kingdom.

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