Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Ossama Omar Abdelkhalik


Space Based Solar Power satellites use solar arrays to generate clean, green, and renewable electricity in space and transmit it to earth via microwave, radiowave or laser beams to corresponding receivers (ground stations). These traditionally are large structures orbiting around earth at the geo-synchronous altitude.

This thesis introduces a new architecture for a Space Based Solar Power satellite constellation. The proposed concept reduces the high cost involved in the construction of the space satellite and in the multiple launches to the geo-synchronous altitude. The proposed concept is a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that are smaller in size than the conventional system.

For this application a Repeated Sun-Synchronous Track Circular Orbit is considered (RSSTO). In these orbits, the spacecraft re-visits the same locations on earth periodically every given desired number of days with the line of nodes of the spacecraft’s orbit fixed relative to the Sun. A wide range of solutions are studied, and, in this thesis, a two-orbit constellation design is chosen and simulated. The number of satellites is chosen based on the electric power demands in a given set of global cities.

The orbits of the satellites are designed such that their ground tracks visit a maximum number of ground stations during the revisit period. In the simulation, the locations of the ground stations are chosen close to big cities, in USA and worldwide, so that the space power constellation beams down power directly to locations of high electric power demands. The j2 perturbations are included in the mathematical model used in orbit design.

The Coverage time of each spacecraft over a ground site and the gap time between two consecutive spacecrafts visiting a ground site are simulated in order to evaluate the coverage continuity of the proposed solar power constellation. It has been observed from simulations that there always periods in which s spacecraft does not communicate with any ground station. For this reason, it is suggested that each satellite in the constellation be equipped with power storage components so that it can store power for later transmission.

This thesis presents a method for designing the solar power constellation orbits such that the number of ground stations visited during the given revisit period is maximized. This leads to maximizing the power transmission to ground stations.