Lockheed Martin app offers a glimpse into the planning of a satellite constellation

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The app is to help “understand the elements associated with communications satellite architectures.”

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin developed an iPhone and iPad app called “Constellations” that visualizes the tradeoffs and calculations that go into designing a network of satellites in space.

Company officials demonstrated a beta version of the app to reporters March 10 during the Satellite 2020 conference. The final product will be available on the Apple app store in a few weeks, a spokesman said.

The target audience for the app are government buyers, space industry investors and academia so they can “understand the elements associated with communications satellite architectures,” the company said. Users can figure out what space architecture would better suit their needs and budgets by adjusting key factors like orbit altitude, satellite life and duration of full service.

Lockheed Martin executives said the company built the app with the same engineering tools that the space industry employs to build commercial constellations.

The company has made the beta version available to a limited group of customers and space engineers to test it out and get feedback. Executives said one of the reasons Lockheed developed the app was to demystify the process of how tradeoffs are made between performance, cost and other factors that inform decisions — such as what size satellites to use, in what orbits they should be deployed, how many launches will be needed, how many ground stations will be required to support the constellation and what the long-term operations costs will be.

“We have no bias toward any particular solution for the ever growing communications mission demand, or how best to address the dynamic environment, but seek to understand the solutions and trades so we can better respond to these market needs,” the company said.