ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository

Industrialization: D-Orbit’s experience with the AOCS Platform
Anastasiya Osik Shaydurova, Emanuele Paolini, Giovanni Corinaldesi, Pietro Bernardini
Presented at:
Sopot 2023
Full paper:

Topics: (1) Current Missions, (2) Small Satellites and Cubesat AOCS/GNC (Hardware & Subsystems), (3) Space Mission AOCS/GNC Validation & Verification. Abstract: In the last decade, the space business is maturing from being strongly customized for each specific mission to being more industrial, following what other more mature industrial areas have done in the past, for example automotive. On one side there is the need to reduce costs to access space, so lean philosophies are seen as a good approach; on the other side, those approaches need large numbers to be effective. Moreover, the need to have standard products with an increasing number of missions is strong also to manage them in a proper way, becoming unfeasible and inconvenient to customize each single platform or subsystem when producing a certain number of them. When numbers are sufficiently high, a more industrialized approach becomes feasible, convenient, and welcome. This has been the case in D-Orbit in recent years, with an increasing number of ION missions to carry CubeSats in space and deliver them in the appropriate orbits, and several other programs to develop in parallel for Earth Observation and, later on, In-Orbit Servicing. The growing number of programs the AOCS & GNC team was involved in led to the necessity to coordinate better the parallel AOCS developments. The problem could have been that, if left without a common guidance, the different AOCS projects, in the different programs, would have diverged, making it very difficult to manage them and further develop the AOCS SW in the future. From this need, the project of a unique AOCS Platform (AOCP) is born, with the main objective to have?only one?AOCS SW for all the programs, making it sufficiently?flexible and modular?to easily adapt to mission-specific needs. Furthermore, the?configuration for each different project shall be?quick and easy, with the addition of a certain degree of automation for several V&V processes,?to well fit with the growing number of ION-SCV missions and other programs incoming without requiring much effort every time a new mission starts, and ultimately speed up the process while maintaining the quality and confidence of the final product. With these objectives in mind, a new repository structure as well as a new SW management strategy have been developed. The AOCP comprises the development of the AOCS SW that is integrated in ION missions as well as the AOCS SW that is to be used in other D-Orbit missions. The development of the AOCP derives from each of the projects of D-Orbit as well as from the required improvements gathered from in-flight performance. The ability to base every project, with different requirements, on the same SW is done through versioning. Each SW version carries new modifications, bug-fixes, and improvements with respect to the previous one, but also allows flexibility in the avionics that can be used and adapted for each version. The R&D projects carried out at D-Orbit derive added requirements, which are implemented parallelly in the AOCP and posteriorly used in the industrialization process. Each SW version can be further developed and maintained in parallel and bugfixes need only to be improved in the source. The chain of features or bugfixes that are implemented creating a new SW version can be posteriorly uploaded in a flying ION mission allowing to demonstrate capabilities in a very fast way and validate in flight. This grants the possibility of minimizing the time between any change of the SW that is requested and the corresponding in-flight heritage. Different ION versions carry different SW versions, creating a range of configurable products that adapt to each client’s mission, in the same approach as done in the automotive industry. Each product created is a configuration of the AOCP functionalities and, in terms of avionics used: number of actuating devices, sensors, number of Star Trackers, presence of gyros, etc. This provides the possibility of having more economical products that achieve different performances tailored to each client and adapted to each mission demand: with higher/lower pointing accuracies, associated to higher/lower costs, duration, or payload type, among others. The Industrialization of the AOCP has been successfully achieved with an automatization that allows the modification of mission-specific parameters without any AOCS team involvement in the process, making each ION launch very productive in a time-demanding environment. This is achievable and scalable to every D-Orbit project due to the transversality of the AOCS SW along the different R&D missions. In this way, the effort in modifying the SW and adapting it to each mission is highly reduced from an AOCS point of view, as it is performed in an automatic way, decreasing like so, the implication in the industrialization process. With the same philosophy in mind, tasks like the calibration of the sensors, before each ION launch, can be done in an automatic way just using as input the raw measurements. The ability to sustain just one AOCS SW for all of D-Orbit’s missions is very advantageous from the point of view of maintainability and improvement. This requires a large flexibility from the SW’s point of view, that allows adapting it to the different R&D missions as well as the different launches of ION. Being able to sustain modifications and bug-fixes that can be rapidly tested in-flight, along with improvements, is increasing the performances to all the products range and provide new capabilities which are in high demand in the New Space industry. The SW’s flexibility makes it a highly demanded product that can adapt to the requested necessities of every mission. Additionally, the capability to Industrialize and optimize the mission preparation through automatizations is very advantageous and time-saving, and will for sure be the future of the New Space Companies.