LEO Satellite Technologies, Systems and Design



This training course is focused on introducing spacecraft engineers, subsystems engineers and managers to the technologies, systems and design methods that are specific to LEO satellites. The content includes satellite requirements development, design processes, technologies, systems engineering, fabrication, testing and operations in sufficient depth to ensure that attendees gain significant knowledge and understanding in these areas. The course includes practical examples to illustrate peculiarities of LEO satellites and applications.


Each attendee receives extensive notes and reference materials.


1.0 Introduction to the LEO Satellite Community

General Overview of LEO Applications

Language of LEO Operators

Unique Aspects of LEO Operations

Examples of LEO Missions and Spacecraft

2.0 LEO-Peculiar Satellite Systems, Applications and Operations

Configuration Drivers, Such as Attitude Stabilization and Pointing Requirements

Impacts of Drag

Impacts of Gravity Gradients

Orbital Debris Issues and Limitations

3.0 LEO Missions, Applications and Orbital Mechanics

Low Earth Orbital Mechanics and Characteristics

     Sun Sync & Non-Sun Sync

Identification of LEO Advantages

Altitude and Orbital Decay Effects

End of Life Disposal

4.0 LEO Operations vs GEO Operations

Orbit Establishment, Initial and Maintenance Maneuvering

Stationkeeping Requirements

Orbit Changing Techniques for Altitude & Inclination

Yaw Steering

Ground Tracks

Altitude and Orbital Decay Effects and Impacts of Drag

Impacts of Gravity Gradients

Radiation Effects on Lifetime and System Degradation

Orbital Debris Issues and Limitations

5.0 LEO Launch Vehicle Considerations, Dispensers

Launch Vehicle Requirements and Selection Criteria for LEO missions

Survey of Launch Vehicle Options

New SmallSat Launch Vehicles to be Debuted in the Next 5 to 10 Years

Special Launch Site Considerations

Multi-Satellite Deployment from Dispenser (deployment time delay, phasing, etc)

Trade-Space of Altitude vs. Inclination vs. Launch Mass

Secondary/Rideshare Payload Launch Market

6.0 LEO Mission Design and Requirements, Definition and Architecture

Service Requirements

Mission Ground System

Launch Strategy

Payload Specification

7.0 LEO Satellite System Engineering

Mission Drivers

Command and Control CONOPS

Payload Drivers

Deriving Satellite Requirements

Integration and Test Interfaces

8.0 LEO Satellite Design

Satellite Trades

Defining Satellite Architecture

Payload Accommodation


Integration and Test

Ground Support Equipment


9.0 Summary

Mission Design Principles

LEO Satellite Design Principles

Operations and Operational Constraints



Dr. Marshall H. Kaplan is a noted expert in aerospace systems and technologies and an internationally recognized lecturer on high technology aerospace topics. He has over 40 years of relevant experience in academia, government and industry. Dr. Kaplan has served as Chief Engineer on two large aerospace technology systems, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at a major US research university, consultant to the international satellite industry and senior advisor to the US Department of Defense and NASA. He is the author of three books including an internationally used textbook for engineers studying astronautics, Modern Spacecraft Dynamics and Control. Dr. Kaplan holds advanced degrees from M.I.T. and Stanford University. He is a Fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Astronautical Society (AAS). He has an extensive background in training working satellite professionals in satellite and mission design, technologies and spacecraft subsystems.  


Robert A. Summers has been the Mission Systems Engineer for small satellite programs and has provided technical direction and leadership to several important NSS and Civilian Space initiatives. He has a B.S. in electri­cal engineering from Stanford University, a M.S. in computer science from The Johns Hopkins University, and a M.S. in technical management (with honors) from The Johns Hopkins Univer­sity. Mr. Summers has served as a senior spacecraft engineer at the Applied Physics Lab. and was the Vice President of Engineering at AeroAstro, where he also served as the Chief Engi­neer of the Standard Interface Vehicle program.



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