Overview

In 2017 Kepler Communications Inc. acquired two CubeSats as a pilot for a full satellite constellation. Both satellites KIPP and CASE were developed using Bright Ascension’s Flight Software Development Kit.

 

Targeting the Internet of Things (IoT) market, Kepler aim to launch a proposed constellation of 140 satellites for high-capacity global connectivity services with applications in maritime, agriculture, research and exploration, government, and transportation.

Challeges

Together with Kepler’s KIPP CubeSat, CASE was an important milestone in testing commercial viability of the service as well as trialling the concept and technology.

Rapid development

The main challenge with this mission was the tight timescales. CASE was an opportunity for the company to quickly incorporate what was previously learned from the pilot KIPP CubeSat, while also extending service capacity and service response. As any demonstration mission it required a quick turnaround and short lead time.

Automation

Similar to most demonstration missions, once in orbit, operators want to be able focus on the service delivery and its commercial potential. They expect spacecraft operations to be automated so the majority of the valuable efforts and resources are concentrated on mission goals.

Solutions

Rapid development

The FSDK allowed for the complex flight software to be developed quickly and efficiently in a short time period of only 5 months.Using the FSDK allowed existing validated commercial off-the-shelf subsystems and platforms to be linked together which reduced development time as components did not need to be designed from scratch.The spacecraft itself was a standard and widely used platform which made for a relatively straightforward software environment.

Automation of Operations

Our integrated space system uses substantial automation features, built into both the ground and flight software.Based on the same GenerationOne technology, the flight software also seamlessly integrated with our MCS software to allow operators to easily communicate with the spacecraft from the control centre.It also included automation components to permit the automation of on-board activities such as responding to events and scheduling on-board activities based on relative time, absolute time or spacecraft orbit.

Outcome

Bright Ascension’s FSDK allowed the flight software to be developed in a short time period of 5 months and the satellite was successfully launched in January 2018.

CASE was followed by a further satellite, a 6U platform named TARS, which was also developed using our FSDK product and supported by our MCS. TARS expanded on the success of the two 3U predecessors by carrying a full suite of upgraded communications and processing units developed by Kepler to deliver both broadband and narrowband telecommunication services. We were privileged to support Kepler in the development of their world-leading demonstration CubeSats.

Building on the success of their pilot satellites, Kepler Communications Inc. plan to go ahead with their constellation of 140 Internet of Things satellites.