Measuring the impact of launch operations upon satellite effectiveness

by Bruce E. Krell

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Procurement decisions regarding Department of Defense satellite systems are usually based upon the assumption of a reliable and dependable launch system. Attempts to relate disruptions of launch operations to numbers of satellites on-orbit are often in the form of discrete-event simulations (requiring many data inputs and large amounts of computer time). The approach which is adopted in this study is a form of continuous simulation (as opposed to discrete-event simulation), an approach which has traditionally been limited to analysis of systems in the physical sciences. The continuous simulation methodology requires significantly fewer inputs than discrete-event simulations and is amenable to implementation on a programmable, hand-held calculator, saving expensive computer and data-gathering time. Several examples are provided which demonstrate how continuous simulation may be used to model disruptions in launch capability and various satellite operational philosophies.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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