The creation of an orbital services model (where spacecraft expose their capabilities for use by other spacecraft as part of a service-for-hire or barter system) requires effective determination of how to best transmit information between the two collaborating spacecraft.
Existing approaches developed for ad hoc networking (e.g., wireless networks with users entering and departing in a pseudo-random fashion) exist; however, these fail to generate optimal solutions as they ignore a critical piece of available information.
This additional piece of information is the orbital characteristics of the spacecraft. A spacecraft’s orbit is nearly deterministic if the magnitude and direction of its velocity vector is known (irregular drag and other factors can introduce error, particularly over an extended period of time, which can be corrected for).
Because of this, it is possible for the communications routing algorithm to predict (with a high level of accuracy) future positions of origin, destination and prospective intermediate nodes and determine a communications path optimized based on this knowledge. Many other applications of spatial computing have similar constraints on the problem space. This paper considers the special case of spatially-aware communications traffic routing in an orbital environment and extrapolates from this to other spatial computing problems with problem space constraints.
Author: Jeremy Straub