Overview

The IOD-1 mission was the key first step in the OMS’s GEMS programme roll-out to test commercial viability of the service and prove the concept and technology. With the demonstration nature of the mission, it required greater reliability, flexibility and rapidity.

 

Challeges

The IOD-1 mission was the key first step in the OMS’s GEMS programme roll-out to test commercial viability of the service and prove the concept and technology. With the demonstration nature of the mission, it required greater reliability, flexibility and rapidity

Rapid development

With a demonstration mission, OMS did not have the luxury of waiting around for 10 years to launch the satellite and required a fast job within 18 months.

Reliability

IOD-1 GEMS may have needed to prove its payload technology, but it certainly didn’t aim to test its flight platform and the software infrastructure. Reliability of components is key to any demonstration mission.

Automation

Once launched, a demonstration mission needs to fully focus on exploring the commercial potential of the mission, which means flexibility in planning and automation of operations are paramount as progresses through its life on orbit.

Flexible and clever design

Having a unique payload requires a greater degree of flexibility from your space software platform. This may include adding new components, for example, payload handing, data storage, etc.

Solutions

Rapid development

The GenerationOne FSDK allowed for the complex flight software to be developed quickly and effectively, making use of the heritage of our component library. For example, like many CubeSat missions, IOD-1 GEMS needs to store payload data in the time between acquisition and downlink. GenerationOne provides many options for data storage, and designing the datastore using pre-existing patterns and service interfaces sped up development substantially.

Reliability and Experience

Our software has been demonstrated in the context of 16 difference satellites, providing us with important heritage and experience. For instance, taking advantage of lessons learned from the previous missions, we were able to quickly bring up a CCSDS compliant downlink with remarkably low CPU usage on the onboard computer.

Automation of Operations

Our integrated space system uses substantial automation features, built into both the ground and flight software. Take lights-out operations, for instance: by automating both flight-side and ground-side behaviour, the MCS allows routine operations to become genuinely routine and move towards full lights-out automation as the mission progresses.

Flexible and clever design

Flexibility and smart design is at the core of our software infrastructure. For instance, we provide flexible access to key spacecraft parameters, telemetry and logs. During platform checkout, the MCS allows operators to respond to changes or anomalies quickly, by providing customised UI layouts and integrated decoding and viewing of downlinked logs. Data can be inspected, graphed and exported later for off-line analysis and planning.

Outcome

IOD-1 GEMS was delivered to International Space Station in April 2019. It was highly successful and returned a large amount of valuable data for OMS. Following this demonstration mission, OMS commissioned a 6U satellite to be manufactured by AAC Space Clyde, which is the first step in transitioning the GEMS project to a commercial stage and deployment of a full constellation of small satellites as part of the programme.