Russian Space Systems Developing Advanced Technology for Managing Large Satellite Constellations

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Russian Space Systems Holding (RKS, part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) is developing a self-regulating technology for controlling multi-satellite orbital constellations with elements of artificial intelligence and minimal human participation. It will allow in the future to automate the control of satellite constellations of thousands of spacecraft.

A feature of the new technology will be the transition from the point control of individual spacecraft used today to the control of the systemic effect of the entire orbital constellation. In their development, DCS specialists propose to use the methods of coordinated self-organization – or homeostasis, which will effectively manage the orbital structure, its number, system resources, data transmission network and orbital computing network.

With the space constellation existing in Russia today, consisting of more than 150 satellites, the ground-based automated complex conducts up to 2,000 control sessions every day. The technology used today assumes the maintenance of each spacecraft separately: its performance and orbital position are monitored, deviations or threats are countered.

Traditional technology has its limits – further growth of the group, taking into account the restrictions on increasing management resources, creates the likelihood of collapse. The new self-regulating technology will make it possible to implement domestic projects of multi-satellite multiservice orbital constellations numbering from several hundred to thousands of spacecraft to provide navigation, communications, remote sensing of the Earth and other functions.

Alexander Potyupkin, head of the project for the creation of a self-regulating technology for controlling multi-satellite orbital constellations: “The tasks of managing a complex multi-satellite orbital constellation will be solved on the basis of the principles of homeostasis, as a systemic adaptation to the entire spectrum of influencing factors to establish dynamic balance and system integrity, taking into account resource factors. This will make it possible to abandon the resource-intensive ‘hard’ technologies for controlling individual satellites, which imply the obligatory countering of the negative effects of the degradation factors of the orbital constellation. In addition, management technologies of a higher, systemic level will be implemented, including a whole range of newly developed management methods, a new structure of the technological management cycle and the content of information support tasks. “

For the new control system, the developers propose a hierarchical structure. At its upper levels, new tasks for managing systemic and target effects will be introduced. The control system will independently determine spacecraft for the formation of orbital structures for the implementation of various target effects – conducting a space survey of the surface, transmitting information or a navigation signal, and others. To do this, it will assess the orbital positions of each satellite, their technical condition, the availability of energy resources and reserves of the working fluid.

To further increase the capabilities of the self-regulating system for multi-satellite orbital constellations, it is proposed to use the technology of GRID systems by creating a global “virtual supercomputer” – combining the computing power of automated control systems and the spacecraft themselves into a single network.