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The future of UTC and small satellites

By: sclaypoole
The Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI) in Colorado Springs is a centralized source of research, standards, data and innovative technical solutions for the space industry. Backed by AGI’s renowned astrodynamic experts, this five-member group promotes space-related best practices through data, tools and consultation in areas such as: high-precision operations; space asset protection strategy; autonomous operations; space mission design and analysis; advanced navigation applications; conjunction and launch-window analysis techniques; and optimal orbit determination. David Finkleman, PhD, (aka “Doc”), a champion of improved space and time standards (among many other things), recently co-authored two articles on the future of Coordinated Universal Time and small satellite systems. The Future of Coordinated Universal Time In a recent article coauthored by Kara Warburton, City University of Hong Kong and published in ITU News, Doc posits that should a new concept of time be introduced—one that is divorced from Earth rotation, which the current term, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), is tied to—new terminology should be agreed upon, adopted and rigorously managed. If not, the authors suggest, “ … there will be two different interpretations of the concept of time, both designated by UTC: (a) time aligned with Earth rotation embodied with leap seconds and more precise corrections now commonly available and (b) time without any connection to Earth rotation. Proleptic analyses common in astronomy, astrodynamics, religion and many other fields of endeavor will be confounded. Uncountable reference documents and currently authoritative sources will be ambiguous. Apart from cogent technical objections to deprecating Earth rotation, this lack of terminological clarity alone will have significant practical, societal, and legal consequences.” The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 37 (TC37) and its core of professional terminologists have proposed Temps International (TI), or International Time, as the alternative to describe an international standard of time, a suggestion that the authors support. You can read the full article here: Small Satellite Systems The October 2013 Council of European Aerospace Societies (CEAS) Quarterly Bulletin includes an article by Doc and James D. Rendleman, both members of the AIAA International Activities Committee, focused on opportunities to complement “flagship” class space systems with small satellites. Larger systems are more expensive, riskier and require more resources. Small satellites (typically a few kilograms through 1,000 kg), on the other hand, typically offer lower cost, resiliency and responsiveness. The authors conclude that known drawbacks of small satellite systems—technical and management challenges, decreased mission assurance, capability and ability to track them, etc.—can be overcome through cooperation among the commercial and international communities. “Small satellite architectures present significant opportunities for meaningful international cooperation. They will play an ever expanding role in the global space marketplace. Cooperation on such ventures should leverage resources, reduce risk, improve efficiency, expand international engagement, and enhance diplomatic prestige for the nations and organizations involved.” Click here to read the full article, which begins on page 18!
Posted: 10/25/2013 1:50:38 PM