New Approach to Spacecraft Test and Simulation
At Space Tech Expo Europe 2021 in Bremen, Celestia STS has launched its multi-purpose interface platform (MPIP), offering a novel approach to spacecraft test and simulation.
MPIP is a modular, scalable electrical ground support equipment (EGSE) that enables space equipment builders or integrators to test and simulate different electrical interfaces in a fast, flexible, and cost-efficient manner. By combining interfaces into a single platform that is completely scaleable, it offers a highly effective, versatile testing solution for all spacecraft – large and small.
The onboard interfaces commonly used in testing programmes make use of the European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) standards. These define a multitude of standardised onboard electrical and protocol interfaces, varying from low-rate (up to 2Mbps), through medium-rate (to 400Mbps), up to a high rate of 6.25Gbps and beyond. Traditionally, these types of interfaces are implemented by dedicated EGSE units or platforms divided by type and bandwidth of an interface type, making them costly to implement and maintain.
Celestia STS’s new MPIP adopts a more flexible and efficient approach, by integrating all interface types into a common architecture that supports the complete range of spacecraft onboard interfaces – such as Power, Discretes, SpaceWire and future High-Speed Interfaces like WizardLink – in a single platform. MPIP is designed to support future space programmes with data rates of up to 20Gbps and beyond.
The system is a rack-mount or tabletop 19”, 3U unit, which supports up to 16 interface modules. Each module represents dedicated electrical or data ECSS interface types (LCL, ASM, TSM, HPC, SpW etc) and is designed in a 3U Eurocard size form factor, which adds to the scalability of the system. For small systems, the modules can be mounted horizontally, providing a total of eight slots in a 2U-high unit.
“By combining different MPIP modules in one platform, we can offer our customers a versatile, cost-efficient, and easily maintainable spacecraft test and simulation system. It’s our answer to the new space trends,” commented Dougie Johnman, COO at Celestia STS. “Future satellite test and simulation systems need to meet the increasingly higher data rate requirements for current and future satellites, while maintaining the standard discrete electrical interfaces which monitor and control payload and platform sub-systems. Our new solution achieves both, making it a very attractive proposition for our current and prospective clients alike.”
Development of the innovative MPIP system began in October 2018, when Celestia STS received Netherlands Space Office (NSO) funding as part of the ESA General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). Celestia leveraged its extensive track record in designing and building state-of-the-art EGSEs, and incorporated best practice and learnings from its highly experienced team to design and produce the MPIP.
“We are happy to support Celestia STS’s new product development, leading to today’s launch of a new test and simulation system that will address the future needs of the space industry,” explains Luc Boumans, NSO Coordinator Space Technology IPC, THAG Delegate. “It’s our goal to support innovative Dutch space companies like Celestia which create high added-value products to tackle future space challenges.”