Assessing Potential Demand for Orbital Outposts

August, 2021
IDA document: D-22791
FFRDC: Science and Technology Policy Institute
Type: Documents , Space
Thomas J. Colvin, Keith W. Crane, Rachel Lindbergh, Talla F. Babou, Benjamin A. Corbin, Roger M. Myers, Rina L. Zhang See more authors
Government agencies and private companies have recently expressed interest in the development of an uncrewed, persistent platform in space. The Department of Defense, through the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), has funded several projects to create such platforms, which they call orbital outposts. DIU has also funded the development of multi-orbit logistics capabilities that would support such an outpost. An outpost could potentially support government, industry and academic needs for in-space testing of space systems, refreshing technologies on operational satellites, microgravity research and development, in-space manufacturing and assembly of products, deployment of space assets more rapidly than possible using launch vehicles and other applications. The purpose of this study is to assess the feasibility and potential cost-effectiveness of using orbital outposts, as opposed to alternative methods for access to space, to support a variety of these use cases.