LITTLETON, Colo. – Spacecraft designers at Lockheed Martin Corp. promote industry-standard approaches for docking satellites in orbit that are built by various integrators and subsystem manufacturers.
Lockheed Martin Space Segment Managers in Littleton, Colorado have released the non-proprietary, open-source Mission Augmentation Port (MAP) interface industry standard to support in-orbit docking within industry.
The MAP standard provides a mechanical interface design for docking spacecraft to each other. Equipping satellites with docking adapters is one way to add new mission capabilities to a satellite after launch, company officials say.
The Lockheed Martin Augmentation System Port Interface (ASPIN) is designed to comply with the MAP standard. The ASPIN adapter provides an electrical and data interface between satellites.
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The MAP standard can help designers develop their own MAP-compatible docking adapters to enable docking satellite interoperability. The standard describes a physical companion to the docking port halves, such as plate and petal dimensions, with suggestions for electrical interfaces and docking profiles.
“Just as USB was designed to standardize computer connections, these documents are designed to standardize how spacecraft connect to each other in orbit,” says Paul Pelley, Senior Director of Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Space. .
Standardized docking interfaces can allow satellite operators to perform a new kind of mission upgrades, Lockheed Martin officials say. The standard can help satellite operators reconfigure hardware capabilities to meet changing mission needs.
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These upgrades could include processors, data storage or sensors that add longevity and value to satellite missions. The standard could also facilitate prototyping and rapid testing of new satellite mission capabilities. Some satellite components could also be replaced or upgraded post-launch with new hardware.
Future missions could receive technology insertion and upgrades through in-orbit hardware and software upgrades, according to Lockheed Martin officials. “Ultimately, our goal is to drive the development of a new ecosystem where the function of a platform can change at the pace of technology,” Pelley said.
Interested persons can download the new MAP standard online at https://contact.lockheedmartin.com/map. For more information, contact Lockheed Martin Space at https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/capabilities/space.html.