Adaptable Multipurpose Satellites
Most current satellites are designed to serve a particular function or functions once on orbit, but what if they could change functions while in orbit? An Aerospace-developed concept named “Hive” intends to use a disaggregated architecture of mass-producible smart units to perform functions once reserved for larger satellites.
Hive units would have the ability to self-assemble and reassemble on-orbit, depending on the required functionality, improving both the agility and resiliency of space systems. For example, Hive could be used as a large, reconfigurable optical telescope. By rearranging Hive units while in orbit, the shape of the telescope mirror could change to show different viewpoints.
Alternatively, a Hive-based satellite could travel to Mars in one configuration while in space, then
reconfigure to form a structure on the surface of the planet after arrival, or form a large truss in
space where other payloads could be attached to perform their missions.
Features of Hive
The building block of the Hive is the individual unit that can be operated independently and interdependently.
A Hive unit:
- Is small, smart, and massproducible
- Interlocks with other units and passes power, data, and heat
- Can rotate a face while attached to other units
- Can rendezvous, dock, and reconfigure on demand or autonomously
Advantages of a Hive System
- Hive can build very large structures in space that are too large to fit on a launch vehicle
- Hive can change its configuration to perform different missions
- Hive can disperse or change its stance in the event of a threat (e.g., approaching space debris), then reassemble when the threat has passed
- Malfunctioning or older Hive cells can be individually replaced, making repairs and upgrades easier without loss of overall functionality