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LEO Express

Constellation Services International, Inc. (CSI) is an entrepreneurial orbital human spaceflight services company that is currently focused on cargo logistics to low Earth orbit (LEO) space stations. CSI is developing the LEO Express SM Space Cargo System, an innovative, patented method for re-supplying space stations using existing technology. The sixteen partners in the International Space Station (ISS) project currently spend well over $1 billion per year to resupply ISS. NASA's budget for ISS crew and cargo services is scheduled to grow to approximately $500 million per year after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010. Meanwhile, private ventures are planning private space stations which will need low cost economical resupply.

Constellation Services International, Inc. (CSI) is collaborating with Space Systems Loral (SS/L) to pursue a funded Space Act Agreement with NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The two companies are working together, with SS/L as the prime, to produce a commercial cargo system to re-supply NASA's International Space Station (ISS), and to create new commercial space services and applications.

Charles Miller, CSI's Chief Executive Officer stated "Because of recent problems with generating private capital for ISS cargo servicing projects, the question on everybody's mind now is 'Can any company really raise all the money needed to complete a high-risk commercial space project in partnership with NASA?'" Miller continued "As a well-established company that is known for its technical and commercial excellence as well as its entrepreneurial approach and its expertise at building ISS hardware, Loral is probably better positioned to achieve the COTS goals than any other bidder in the competition."

Currently each space transportation system requires its own end-to-end, launch vehicle-specific solution for cargo delivery. CSI's patented service "disaggregates" the space logistics supply chain into an orbital space tug and a standardized cargo container. Since the launch vehicle only transports the cargo container, and not the entire spacecraft, the CSI service delivers more cargo to orbit for any given launch vehicle . If one launch vehicle becomes unavailable because of technical problems, the standardized container can easily be launched on other launch vehicles. The LEO ExpressSM system, using CSI's proprietary and open standard, also enables the selection of the lowest cost supplier for each segment of the chain, which increases competition and saves customers considerable money and time while improving services.

CSI's LEO ExpressSM system can use many spacecraft as orbital space tugs. The earliest tug the system can use is the existing Progress spacecraft which is already certified for ISS operations. Over time as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, or other spacecraft, become certified for ISS operations they also might be converted to a reusable orbital tug.

In a space platform supply system, a canister containing supply for a space platform is launched into orbit using a launch vehicle. An intermediate space vehicle rendezvous and docks with the canister while the attached launch vehicle provides the necessary orbit maintenance and stabilization to enable the docking. After docking, the intermediate space vehicle detaches the canister from the launch vehicle element or the launch vehicle element may initiate detachment from the intermediate space vehicle/canister. In either event, the intermediate space vehicle then can provide propulsion and attitude control to allow the canister to be transported to and docked with the space platform being supplied, thus eliminating the need for the canister to include propulsion and attitude control of its own. The canister is standardized such that it can be launched using a wide variety of launch vehicles and is configured so as to not require redesign or modification of the launch vehicles used. Also, the canister is preferably standardized such that it can be attached to a wide variety of space platforms. The canister need not have provision for its own propulsion or attitude control, but can rely solely upon the attached element of the launch vehicle for those functions.

The launch vehicle can be single-stage or multistage, expendable or reusable. The launch vehicle includes attitude control to stabilize the launch vehicle (and the attached canister enough to allow the intermediate space vehicle to attach to the canister. Typically, this is done by the launch vehicle maintaining a three-axis stabilized position relative to the approaching intermediate space vehicle.

The intermediate space vehicle is a space tug that is attached to the space platform when not in use, in which case the intermediate space vehicle would depart from the space platform to rendezvous and dock with the canister while attached to the launch vehicle and the launch vehicle can detach from the canister once the canister is attached to the intermediate space vehicle.

Space Systems/Loral has architected and proposed a cost-effective, achievable solution to NASA's need for commercial transportation of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The container-and-tug system relies on two major assets: SS/L's capable 1300 model spacecraft bus and the space intermodal transportation architecture patented by Constellation Services International, Inc. (CSI). The reusable element - the Space Tug - is only launched once and remains in orbit. The disposable Container is low cost - it relies for all "expensive capabilities" on the launcher upper stage, the Tug, and the ISS. Independent of specific launch vehicles: lower cost and lower risk of cargo flow interruptions. The Tug is based on a proven, high propulsive capacity bus - the SS/L 1300. The proximity operations subsystems on the Tug are derived from demonstrated XSS-11 and Orbital Express capabilities.

The SS/L 1300 Satellite Platform bus is a leader in power, performance, and reliability. As a modular, space-proven platform, it has the flexibility to accommodate a wide range of satellite services. The central cylinder structural configuration is a strong foundation for continual evolutionary development to deliver increasingly higher power, greater flexibility, and longer mission life. Modular subsystem building blocks allow efficient customization of the 1300 platform to specific mission and payload requirements, supporting the demanding deployment schedules of commercial space programs. As of 2007 there were 48 of the 1300 model satellites in service in geosynchronous orbit. Four more were ready for launch and 14 were under construction at SS/L's Palo Alto, California facilities.

Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) designs and builds satellites and systems for commercial and government customers around the world. As the leading provider of high-power commercial satellites, the company works closely with a broad range of international satellite operators and service providers to deliver spacecraft for direct-to-home television, digital audio radio, broadband Internet, digital multimedia broadcasting, and a variety of other services. With a 50 year history and over 1,400 cumulative on-orbit service years logged, Space Systems/Loral uses its space proven, heritage design as the reliable foundation for incremental technology advances that help customers meet their business objectives.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:47:31 ZULU