Lockheed Martin goes open-source for satellite on-orbit docking

Lockheed Martin goes open-source for satellite on-orbit docking

Its Augmentation System Port Interface (ASPIN) is compliant with the Mission Augmentation Port (MAP) interface standard, which provides a mechanical interface design for docking spacecraft to one another. Details of ASPIN has been made available online.

The aim is to be able to upgrade operational spacecraft “at the speed of technology” and provide built-in servicing infrastructure for spacecrafts. The company writes:

“The MAP standard provides a mechanical interface design for docking spacecraft to one another. Equipping satellites with docking adapters offers a novel way to add new mission capabilities to a platform after launch. Lockheed Martin’s own Augmentation System Port Interface (ASPIN) is designed to be compliant with the MAP standard. The ASPIN adapter provides electrical and data interface between a host spacecraft and a satellite augmentation vehicle (SAV).”

Essentially, it hopes standardised interfaces will allow satellite operators to take advantage of new types of mission upgrades, more cost-effectively.

“Just like USB was designed to standardize computer connections, these documents are designed to standardize how spacecraft connect to each other on orbit,” said Paul Pelley, Senior Director of Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Space. “We believe it’s in the best interest of the nation for the industry to have common interface standards to provide mission agility and enterprise interoperability.”

Specifically, the documents released contain the information required for a compliant physical mate of docking port halves, such as the dimensions of plates and petals. Suggestions for electrical interfaces and docking profiles are included.

Pictured above is a conceptual design showing how a docking port may be incorporated onto a satellite using the MAP-based standard.

Image: Lockheed Martin

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