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Design a very low earth orbit (VLEO) constellation




2: Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Brian Anthony

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Theresa Werth: theresaw@mit.edu

Project Description

There are currently several commercial satellite communication firms in varying stages of deploying and operating large constellation of small satellites in low and medium earth orbits (LEO and MEO). You will design a very low earth orbit (VLEO) constellation that is able to communication with three of these LEO/ MEO satellites through their user link (designed to communicate with a user on earth). You will define the orbital parameters for a 100-satellite VLEO constellation (e.g. altitude, inclination, phase spacing, etc.), as well as steerable “inter-constellation” communication payload parameters (e.g. min and max angular velocity, field of regard, range requirements, etc.). Open source technology research will be conducted to understand the limitations present in the state-of-the-art technology. Which combinations of altitude / inclination should be targeted, and which should be avoided, in order to achieve the best overall connectivity? The student will create evidence that the VLEO constellation design provides “continuous coverage” for the three commercial constellations under consideration and determine “rules of thumb” or best practices for multi-shell links. Impact: This project is of interest to public and private space organizations.


Experience and/or interest in Orbital dynamics, data analysis, data visualization, optimization (optional).