The notion of an Earth satellite has become outmoded. In present practice satellites eventually become orbital debris, and this is no longer acceptable. An integrated program provides a solution to this problem, and reduces costs. A system of platforms is provided for all Earth orbit equipment. The number and location of these requires study. Equipment addition or removal, expendables replenishment, and preventive maintenance and some repair, are provided by remotely operated vehicles. Manned visitation for unusual situations is supported.
Again, the methods of tending the platforms require study, indeed are an area where considerable effort should be expended. Issues include whether ion propulsion is used for periodic visitation; and designing equipment for interfacing with remotely operated maintenance tenders.
The design of the platforms themselves also requires careful study. They should provide standard interfaces for a variety of equipment, with specialization of platforms possible. Power is provided by one or more standard power modules. As noted previously these might fly separately from the platform "equipment bus"; there is a "constraint box" for mechanical coupling and a standard electrical coupler. The mechanical coupler includes "clamps", so that the entire structure can be made rigid, for transport, emergencies, etc.