Architecting space communication networks under mission demand uncertainty
NASAs Space Network has been a successful program that has provided reliable communication and navigation services for three decades. As the third generation of satellites is being launched, alternatives to the current architecture of the system are being studied in order to improve the performance of the system, reduce its costs and facilitate its integration with the Near Earth Network and the Deep Space Network. Within this context, past research has proven the feasibility of efficiently exploring a large space of alternative network architectures using a tradespace search framework.
Architecting a space communication network is a complex task that requires consideration of uncertainty, namely (1) factoring in customer demand variability, (2) predicting technology improvements and (3) considering possible budgetary constraints. This paper focuses on adding uncertainty associated with (1) to the existing communications network architecture tool by describing a heuristic-based model to derive mission concept of operations (conops) as a function of communication requirements. The accuracy of the model is assessed by comparing real conops from current TDRSS-supported missions with the predicted concept of operations. The model is used to analyze how customer forecast uncertainty affects the choice of the future network architecture. In particular, four customer scenarios are generated and compared with the current TDRSS capabilities.