A Roller Coaster Approach to Satellite Re-positioning

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — When a natural disaster strikes or a national security emergency breaks out, every minute counts.

But it can take a satellite in low earth orbit 100 minutes to make one of the many passes needed to provide global coverage. Larger satellites can provide continuous coverage of greater areas but require higher altitudes and still only cover roughly one-third of the Earth.

In critical, fast-moving situations, space operators can find themselves challenged by the stubborn inflexibility of satellite positioning, which, despite numerous technological advances, still requires satellites to rotate or orbit into viewing range to image a target.