Science & Technology

Lockheed Martin studies how to use a cloud of satellites for space missions

Increasingly computing is being carried out within the cloud, however thus far, the cloud-based method hasn’t been utilized in space.

Lockheed Martin is considering altering that.

The aerospace large has already registered two logos for satellite tv for pc cloud methods — HiveStar and SpaceCloud — and it’s contemplating how the method could be utilized to a vary of space missions.

Yvonne Hodge, vp and chief info officer at Colorado-based Lockheed Martin Space, lifted the curtain on the HiveStar challenge final week at Amazon’s re:MARS convention in Las Vegas.

“It’s not nearly amassing the info after which sending it again to the bottom for processing,” Hodge mentioned. “It’s about analyzing the knowledge in space … after which sending the data, the intelligence again to Earth.”

One of the keys to the HiveStar structure is Lockheed Martin’s recently announced SmartSat project, which is able to enable small satellites to be reprogrammed in orbit as simply as including an app to a smartphone.

A group of engineers at Lockheed Martin has been engaged on an association that might knit small satellites like SmartSats into a community for in-space communications and information processing.

NASA has been engaged on what appears like a comparable know-how improvement program, often called the Swarm Optical Dynamics Adviser or SODA.

Nikita Patel, one of the engineers engaged on Lockheed Martin’s HiveStar challenge, mentioned her group examined out community configurations utilizing a set of experimental drones. “What we created was a ‘hive,’ a constellation of heterogeneous nodes that had been self-organizing and self-tasking, very like our group,” Patel defined.

The community may function the premise for a everlasting interplanetary info infrastructure. Knowledge from robots and might be processed within the native hive, and the important thing bits of information may then be handed alongside via a collection of nodes to their supposed locations.

“It could actually solely require 1-meter-wide mirrors, laser comms and strategically positioned units at varied Lagrange factors,” Patel mentioned. “That’s all we would wish, and we may guarantee a steady gigabit-per-second connection from Earth to wherever. However that infrastructure doesn’t exist proper now.”

After the presentation, Hodge instructed GeekWire that the HiveStar configuration might be utilized in environments starting from low Earth orbit to deep space.

“It’s a constellation, but it surely’s the software-defined side of it that makes it a hive,” she mentioned. “It’s not such as you replicate the mission in each single satellite tv for pc, however you may distribute the knowledge in such a means in order that if one thing occurred to one, then the others can take over.”

Hodge mentioned the challenge is being pushed ahead as a result of of buyer curiosity — however declined to get too particular in regards to the potential prospects.

“It’s necessary stuff that’s categorized,” she instructed GeekWire. “The idea is correct on in phrases of what they had been wanting for, so we’re working that — however now it’s broader.”

Hodge mentioned HiveStar may see its first deployment inside two years, “perhaps even sooner.” That led me to ask whether or not the idea might be utilized on the moon, which is the focus of a big exploration push on NASA’s half.

“Completely,” she mentioned. “You’re good.”

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