| July 2017 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland to develop Cockpit Procedure Trainer for CH-53GS/GE Helicopter
Press release - Darmstadt, 3 July 2017
The German aerospace company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Leonardo/Thales) has been awarded a contract by Airbus Helicopters to develop a Cockpit Procedure Trainer (CPT) for the CH-53GS and CH-53GE Helicopter.
The GS and GE variants of the helicopter, used by the German Air Force, are currently being modernised by Airbus Helicopters to overcome arisen obsolescences. The cockpit modernisations which include the Autopilot, Flight Management, Communication and Display Systems require an adapted training tool to enable the pilots to obtain or hold their type-rating.
The development of the CPT has been kicked off in May 2017 and will be undertaken in parallel to the actual helicopter modernisation. The CPT development is planned to be completed by November 2018 for the GS version and in April 2020 for the GE version.
The delivery of the CPT will benefit from the existing hardware used by the German Air Force: Previously, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland had already developed a CPT for the GA version of the CH-53 helicopter. This CPT has been used by the German Air Force ever since its delivery in 2011. Among others, four replicated cockpits have been installed for training at the Hubschraubergeschwader 64 in Laupheim and Holzdorf, Germany.
The CPT for the GS/GE versions will subsequently be largely based on the experience that the Training Solutions team in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland have gathered over many years. The CPT for the GS/GE versions will be fully compatible with the replicated cockpits, the separate instructor stations and be delivered also for PC based classroom training as well as mobile version for flexible training on Laptops. This combination of training methods has been positively received by the German Armed Forces in the past.
The success of winning the development of the new CPT is another milestone for Telespazio VEGA Deutschland to stay active within the CH-53 product family. It also shows that the offered training features have been well selected for the expressed training needs. Among others, the CPT will include interactive schematics for further in-depth understanding of the helicopter. In addition, the separate instructor station enables the trainer to monitor and influence in real-time the training at any given moment without the need to be in the cockpit, while having a complete overview and control of the cockpit. The CPT enables the instructor also to make use of the generator for threat scenarios and tactical manoeuvres.
Tel: +49 (0) 6151 8257-764
Mobile: +49 (0)162 21 48 175
Sikorsky CH-53GS Germany Air Force | Curimedia PHOTOGRAPHY (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons
3D model of CH-53GA Mockup for CPT | Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
PDF Version of Press release
PressRelease_CH-53GS English 2017-07-03.pdf
| June 2017 |
Asteroid Day - 24 hour broadcast
The Asteroid Day is a UN official global day of education to help protect Earth from asteroids, observed on 30 June. For this occasion, there will be a live 24 hour broadcast with contributions from all over the world, among others from NASA, JAXA and ESA.
Within the ESA broadcast focussing on Space Situational Awareness, starting at 10:30 CET, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland will be presenting its contributions to the DLR/CNES mission MASCOT which is planned to land on an asteroid in 2018.
The MASCOT Lander module after successful integration | Copyright DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Where to watch
Go to https://asteroidday.org and watch the 24 hour telethon, starting at 3:00 am CET. Check the schedule and line-up here.
Learn more about MASCOT on the dedicated DLR site or read the interview with Federico, the Project Manager for the MASCOT On-Board Computer.
| June 2017 |
How to teach an astronaut to become an astronaut
As much as a teacher needs to study how to become a teacher, the same applies for instructors who teach astronauts to prepare for their mission. This May, we were part of a significant change at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC/ESA) in Cologne: a new instructor training course (ITC) was launched.
The ITC is one of the pre-requisites for any instructor working at EAC as part of the International Space Station (ISS) programme. For years, EAC has been using an adapted version of the NASA ITC, with an American guest instructor coming to Cologne, running it in conjunction with ESA. However, as times change, ESA required a stand-alone course during which future instructors design and develop their teaching practice lessons.
The result of a dedicated workshop revealed that there was a need to introduce some significant changes to the timeframe of the training. In addition, the responsibility to run the ITC lies now with EAC instructors.
We are proud to say that our staff, working as instructors at the EAC, not only supported the development of this new ITC, but also were in charge of administering and delivering it for the first time. Six students – and thus future astronaut instructors – participated in this first new ITC and successfully completed it.
Small insight into our proud team at EAC, training the future astronaut trainers.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the European Human Space Flight Programme for 20 years: our involvement started with an experiment we flew in cooperation with the German Space Agency (DLR) on the Mir space station in 1997. Since then, we have developed a long-term relationship with the European Astronaut Centre, ESTEC and DLR on the Columbus programme.
Theoretically, I could be an astronaut - An interview
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in Cologne
| May 2017 |
SatCom solutions presentation at the geo-konzept Open Day
On the weekend of 20 May, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland was invited to participate in the Open Day organised by geo-konzept. Geo-konzept is a company providing satellite navigation and GIS technology for agriculture and forestry. More than 1000 experts attended the event.
During the Farm Festival, which marks also the 25th anniversary of geo-konzept, Telespazio VEGA exhibited a number of SatCom products, such as a Fly-Away System, a stationary system as well as mobile solutions like BGAN terminals, hybrid modems and satellite telephony. A live demo of the solution was given through the mobile demonstrator of the company, the SatCom car, providing the visitors with free WiFi.
Agricultural applications and services are becoming more and more dependent on accurate navigation data and a constant stream of data, be it through the mobile network (such as LTE) or, as presented by Telespazio VEGA, through a satellite link. The company has already gained many years of research and experience in this field, collaborating with John Deere and DLG on a hybrid modem for tractors.
More SatCom solutions and the prototype of the hybrid modem will be on display at Agritechnica in autumn 2017 at the agriloc stand.
Agriloc and the hybrid modem
Go online with us - via satellite!
| April 2017 |
Change of Leadership in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Press release - Darmstadt, 25 April 2017
After 20 years in the company, Yves Constantin is retiring as Managing Director and Chief Operations Officer of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. He is confiding the leadership of the company to Sigmar Keller (CEO) as Managing Director with whom he has been leading the company together for the last five years.
As of 1 May 2017, the COO responsibilities will be assigned ad interim to Sigmar Keller until a new organisational structure is in place which will be announced within the next few weeks.
Yves Constantin informed all employees already one month ago in a personal mailing, thanking them for the incomparable and rewarding time, team work and for sharing a passion for fantastic space missions and exciting projects:
“I had the privilege to lead many exciting changes in this company. Since its pioneer time, we went through dramatic changes: size and structure of the Company on the one hand, changes of ownership on the other hand. These affected all of us to a notable degree, but always bringing a number of new opportunities. It is now my turn to step down and let younger talents take more responsibility in shaping the future of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.”
Sigmar Keller expressed his gratitude for the excellent collaboration during all these years. He emphasised Yves Constantin’s great contribution to the success of the company and to its positioning in the German aerospace market. He wished him an exciting continuation of his personal life.
Yves Constantin was appointed Managing Director of former Telespazio Deutschland in 2005 which he led until the merger with VEGA Space in 2012. At that date he was appointed Chief Operations Officer of the new entity Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH and continued his role as Managing Director until April 2017.
| March 2017 |
Copernicus programme: Telespazio alongside ESA to launch the Sentinel-2B satellite
Press release - Rome, 2 March 2017
At the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) of the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany, preparations are at their height for the launch of the Sentinel-2B satellite, part of the Copernicus European Earth Observation programme. The launch is scheduled for March 7 at 2:49 (Italian time) from Europe's Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.
Leonardo, one of the leading industrial partners in Copernicus, is working alongside ESA through its affiliate Telespazio during these delicate phases before the launch into orbit of the programme's fifth environmental "sentinel". The satellite is designed to monitor our planet's health, providing high resolution optical images of vegetation, land, and water, as well as useful information in case of emergencies.
The engineers of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, subsidiary of Telespazio, are working to support ESOC's Flight Control team, providing engineering services for the preparation, launch and control of the satellite. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland also provided a simulation service for training the personnel involved in the control of flight operations, and is responsible for developing tools necessary to exploit the data generated by the hyperspectral sensor (MSI) on board the satellite.
The role of Telespazio will not end when the satellite is put into orbit: the company, which contributes to the development of the ground segment and operations of Copernicus, collaborates (through its subsidiaries e-GEOS, GAF and Telespazio VEGA UK) with emergency management, land and sea safety, and climate change monitoring, providing the programme with data from the Italian COSMO-SkyMed and IRS satellites
In particular, the e-GEOS Matera Space Centre is one of the three stations of the Copernicus Core Ground Segment, and it receives the radar and optical data acquired by the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions.
Telespazio, a Leonardo and Thales 67/33 joint venture, is one of the world’s leading operators in satellite services. Its activities range from the design and development of space systems to the management of launch services, from in-orbit satellite control to
Earth observation, from integrated communications, satellite navigation and localisation services to scientific programmes. Telespazio plays a leading role in the reference markets harnessing technological experience acquired over the years. Since its
establishment, the company has participated in major European space programmes such as Galileo, EGNOS, Copernicus and COSMO-SkyMed. In 2015, Telespazio generated sales of EUR 632 million while employing approximately 2,500 people worldwide.
News from the Group: Telespazio and Sentinels | Sister company: GAF AG named “Earth Observation Company of the Year"
Copernicus: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland wins Copernicus Frame Contract
Sentinel 1: How Sentinel-1B keeps us busy
Sentinel 2: Sentinel-2A – A very special mission
Sentinel 3: Further involvement in Sentinel-3 mission secured
ESA Copernicus Website
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC)
Thumbnail: Sentinel-2 illustration - (C) ESA / ATG medialab
| February 2017 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland presents Space Broadband and Drone Detection at U.T.SEC in Nürnberg
Press release - Darmstadt, 28 February 2017
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Leonardo/Thales) will be exhibiting at the U.T.SEC conference, taking place from 2-3 March 2017 in Nurnberg. The company will showcase its solutions for Space Broadband and Drone Detection.
U.T.SEC is an annual exhibition and conference on the topic of unmanned technologies and security. Focussing on technical and legal possibilities to increase security, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland will contribute to the programme with two main topics:
Space Broadband: For security applications, permanent surveillance is dependent on a permanent flow of data. Outages of connectivity or reduced connectivity in badly covered areas endanger the performance of these applications, and eventually the assets they are intended to monitor and protect. Space Broadband provides both fixed as well as mobile satellite solutions made for business clients requiring reliable data connectivity as primary or backup solution.
Visitors to U.T.SEC can visit the Telespazio VEGA stand and join live demonstrations of Space Broadband, located in the NCC West Wing (F0-202).
DIDIT: Telespazio VEGA has been working with Space and Aviation clients for many years, where the company has been entrusted with the development of mission critical systems for daily operations. DIDIT demonstrates these capabilities through the detection, identification and tracking of small drones, enabling users to protect people and assets against intruders. DIDIT will be presented at U.T.SEC as example of building on capabilities in the well-established space and aviation sectors in order to offer solutions to emerging market needs.
PR_UTSEC 2017_English 2017-02-28.pdf
U.T. SEC Website
Space Broadband Offering in Telespazio
Satellite Communication in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
| January 2017 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland supports early mission operations of Hispasat 36W-1
In the early hours of 28 January 2017, the first SmallGEO satellite, Hispasat 36W-1, will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The early mission will be controlled from the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the preparations prior to the launch and will be providing the team of 24/7 Spacecraft Controllers (Spacons) for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) and the In-Orbit-Test (OIT) Phase, under a contract of DLR, the German Aerospace Centre. For routine operations, the satellite will be then handed over to the Spanish satellite operator Hispasat.
In particular, the Telespazio VEGA Deutschland Spacon team was providing support to the trainings, such as simulations of various scenarios, manoeuvres, LEOP rehearsals and trainings of possible contingencies on board an on ground. The team was also closely involved in the spacecraft validation tests, controlled from GSOC, during which all on-board satellite systems and ground systems were tested. The Training of the Spacon team for these tasks was developed and performed by an experienced Spacon Team Leader in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.
SmallGEO/Hispasat 36W-1 - Copyright: ESA–P. Sebirot
About SmallGEO and Hispasat-36W-1
The Hispasat 36W-1 constitutes the first mission of the SmallGEO platform, developed by OHB System AG (Germany) with the European Space Agency and HISPASAT. The satellite will provide flexible broadband coverage over Europe, the Canary Islands and the Americas.
The SmallGEO platform line offers satellite operators an entirely European solution in the smaller telecom satellite market by speeding up the production and testing processes, reducing costs and broadening the range of design options.
Thumbnail: Hispasat 36W-1 satellite - Copyright Hispasat
OHB Site on SmallGEO
ESA Site on SmallGEO
Satellite Operations Expertise in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and worldwide
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland at Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich
| January 2017 |
The future of simulation for space has started
Humans are usually good at noticing when something ends. Quite often it is more difficult to determine when something new starts. 2017 will mark the first step towards future simulators used for space operations.
The “Next generation simulators infrastructure – SIMULUS-NG” is a study that will lay the foundation of the infrastructure development for future operational simulators. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is leading the consortium which includes several European companies. Together the consortium will develop the first prototypes of this infrastructure by mid-2018.
The results of the study will reflect the needs of future operational and non-operational simulators used mainly at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC/ESA) in Darmstadt.
Operational Simulators today
Currently, operational simulators are developed individually for each mission with a fixed set of Ground Stations to use for communication and without foreseen interaction with other missions. Exceptions are made for twin missions or constellations; however, these too, are custom-developed. Although there is already a framework in place which guides developers of operational simulators, for example on which standards to use, the needs are expected to change and to become more complex.
The future is more complex
In the future, various space missions might have to be synchronised to cope with increased complexity of space exploration and robotics – this will impact elements such as their control systems, their communication standards (radio, laser) and interfaces, and also the way they are operated. These complex scenarios need to be properly simulated and trained. Simulation Officers might have to operate multiple simulators for training to reflect the operations reality, for example (see illustration) in order to reflect the communication between an Orion module, a habitat, a lunar landing module and a lunar rover.
These and more requirements will be explored by SIMULUS Next Generation. Using better standards and models across all future operational and non-operational simulators will enable the European Space Industry to develop simulators more rapidly and more cost-efficiently. Eventually, also smaller missions, such as CubeSats, could benefit from SIMULUS Next Generation. In a few years, they might think back at the beginning of 2017 when it all started.
Simulation background in Telespazio VEGA
Telespazio VEGA has been playing a leading role in the development of operational satellite simulators for over 20 years. We have developed simulators, to name a few, for Rosetta, Mars Express, Venus Express, CryoSat/CryoSat2, RADARSAT-2, MSG, SWARM, Lisa Pathfinder, BepiColombo, and most recently ExoMars. The simulators are used to train the operations team and also to support the validation of the ground segment systems and flight operations procedures. They are an essential element to the success of space missions.
Simulation in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Training in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
ESOC in Darmstadt
| December 2016 |
Galileo: Spaceopal awarded the management of the European satellite navigation programme's operations
Spaceopal, equal joint venture between Telespazio and DLR-GfR, won the GSOp (Galileo System Operator) tender, issued by the GSA (European GNSS Agency) for managing the operations of the European Galileo satellite positioning and navigation programme.
In the presence of the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the contract was signed today in Brussels, at the headquarters of the European Commission, by Carlo des Dorides, Executive Director of the GSA, by Giuseppe Lenzo and Simon Plum, respectively CEO and COO of Spaceopal.
The contract will run for ten years, with a value of up to EUR 1.5 billion.
Spaceopal will assume responsibility for managing the Galileo satellite system and its performance: in particular, the operations and control of the system, its security, logistics and maintenance of the systems and infrastructure, the user support services.
The GSOp contract extends the scope of activities that Spaceopal has carried out for the Galileo programme since 2010, and includes the overall responsibility for the system's operations and its global maintenance.
The company will carry out these activities through the two Galileo Control Centres in Fucino (atTelespazio's "Piero Fanti" Space Centre in the L'Aquila province) and Oberpfaffenhofen (at the DLR site near Munich), as well as the GNSS Service Centre (Madrid) and a network of sites and stations distributed around the globe and connected by the Galileo Data Distribution network.
Spaceopal leads an industrial team that includes the participation of Telespazio and DLR-GfR, Vitrociset Belgium, SES Techcom, T-Systems, INECO, CNES, INRIM and TASF, ESOC.
Giuseppe Lenzo, CEO of Spaceopal, said: “Spaceopal is honoured and proud to have been selected by the European GNSS Agency as the Galileo System Operator for the next decade. Together with our partners of DLR and Telespazio, and the members of our core team, we have submitted a very reliable and highly competitive proposal, gathering many of the best available competence and capabilities across Europe. It is a privilege to be in the position to continue to support the deployment of the first European Space infrastructure, Galileo, and to contribute to the development of Galileo Services for European and international users“.
In addition to the planned activities in the Operations field, Spaceopal will provide a fundamental contribution to the development of the Galileo services through a GNSS Competence Cluster, which leverages the experience of its shareholders Telespazio and DLR-GfR and the other GSOp industrial partners, and through an international ecosystem of entities heavily engaged in application development, made up of institutes, Research Agencies, leading companies and SMEs (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Austro Control, BavAIRia, Catapult, Cesah, Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), ERF, Fraunhofer IIS, Globant, Hexagon, Hexagon Geospatial, IABG, IBM, IFEN, IFSTTAR, Indra, ITS Hessen, KSAT, NSL, Qascom, Scisys, Septentrio, Sogei, SUR, Thales Avionics).
Leonardo press release on spaceopal award
spaceopal press release
GSA press release
About Galileo and Satellite Navigation
“Shooting” with lasers at satellites
Where is Galileo? We know who knows!
ESA: Navigation Facility - Galileo
DLR: Galileo Control Centre Oberpfaffenhofen
Telespazio: The Group's involvement - spaceopal - Galileo Control Centre Fucino
| November 2016 |
“Shooting” with lasers at satellites
Navigating to that new café in your town might occur to you as a simple task. Open your Maps App, let it determine your position and let it guide you. This service is handy for private users and also for commercial users such as the aviation sector, agriculture, and of course road traffic.
In our previous Navigation highlight, we gave insight into determining a navigation satellite’s position – a mandatory step before the data can be used to determine someone’s position on Earth. And quite exciting!
Lasers! Phew phew phew!
Lasers play an important role when it comes down to verifying a satellite’s position. We spoke to one of our colleagues Henno Boomkamp to understand how this works in more detail. Henno works as consultant for Satellite Navigation and a part of his job is to perform precise calculations to determine a satellite’s position.
Henno, which data can we use in order to get a first idea where a satellite is?
Henno: “There are several sources of data. In the case of a newly launched satellite, we know for example the details of the launch and more or less its orbit after separation. This is when we receive the first telemetry radio signals on high frequency via S-band. Through the measurements of the Doppler effect we can improve the estimate where the satellite is, at around 20-50 metres precision."
Telespazio VEGA staff are also experts on determining satellite orbits up to a centimetre level. - Photo Telespazio VEGA Deutschland / J. Mai
Is this already precise enough?
Henno: “For some satellite missions, perhaps, but not for most Earth observation satellites or navigation satellites. For precise orbit determination dedicated tracking measurements are used, which nowadays come primarily from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as Galileo, GPS or GLONASS. GNSS data is used to compute the orbits of low Earth orbiting satellites, but also the orbits of the GNSS satellites themselves."
And how do you know that your orbits are correct?
Henno: “Well, this is where lasers come in! An orbit prediction is provided to the International Laser Ranging Service, ILRS, for them to track satellites with a laser. To make it very simple, they send laser pulses in the direction where we believe the satellite to be at a certain time – if it comes back we can compute how much time it took to travel to the satellite and back. Since we know the speed of light, we can determine the distance of the satellite, and have an independent range measurement to the orbit. We have to be very precise in the prediction because the satellite is moving, Earth is moving and the satellite can be thousands of km away, and it is not very big.”
||Wettzell Laser Ranging System (WLRS), the satellite and lunar laser ranging system of the geodetic observatory in Wettzell, Bavaria.|
But doesn’t this mean that there has to be a mirror on-board the spacecraft? How else would the laser pulse be reflected?
Henno: “This is exactly right. Many satellites are equipped with mirrors, so-called Laser Retro Reflectors (LRR). They have the property that they reflect a wave, in this case laser light, back to its source with minimal scattering. A good example is the LAGEOS satellite: It looks like a golf ball and its payload consists only of LRR’s. It’s a perfect, passive measurement system for example to study the gravity field of the Earth. Its data improves our models of the Earth, which in turn helps in the orbit determination of many other satellites.”
||Diagram showing how a corner reflector works.|
|Image of LAGEOS satellite, courtesy of NASA
Is the integration of LRR’s a speciality of navigation satellites?
Henno: “Not necessarily. The LRR’s enable us to determine very precise orbits of satellites through laser ranging. The laser data is in most cases used as an independent validation for the satellite orbits that are computed from other tracking data, such as GNSS, and is fundamental for precise orbit determination of many Earth observation satellites."
So let’s imagine you have collected a set of laser measurements from the ILRS. What happens next?
Henno: “It is essential to keep doing precise orbit determinations throughout a satellite mission, and not just once after launch. The orbit of a satellite changes constantly, by at least a few hundred meters per day, due to all sorts of small perturbations such as gravity of the sun, moon, planets, or radiation pressure from the sun and earth, or effects of asymmetric gravity and tides of the Earth. The laser data forms an important independent verification of the orbit accuracy that is being achieved."
And how often would you determine a satellite’s orbit?
Henno: “The work is a constant circle of specific tasks: The primary tracking data, such as GNSS data is collected continuously. At regular intervals, like once per day, a dataset from the recent past is processed to compute the precise orbit of the satellite over this period. This orbit can be extended a few hours or days into the future to get a prediction, and these predictions are for instance needed by the ILRS to track the satellite with lasers.”
And how many laser measurements are available?
Henno: “There are around 50 Laser Ranging Stations in the world. All of them can track the low satellites up to 1000 km height, but only around 20 of them can track the much higher GNSS satellites. A few of them can even track the Moon, where some laser reflectors were left behind by the Apollo astronauts. The best stations manage to produce two or three passes per day for a GNSS satellite. There are about 35 GNSS satellites with LRRs and ideally each of these 35 satellites has a handful of passes per day. So you could say that it is possible to validate orbits several times per day.”
Further Links about Satellite Navigation
Where is Galileo? We know who knows!
ESA: Navigation Facility - Galileo
DLR: Galileo Control Centre Oberpfaffenhofen
Telespazio: The Group's involvement - spaceopal - Galileo Control Centre Fucino
| October 2016 |
ExoMars: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland supports arrival at the red planet
Press note - Darmstadt, 14 October 2016
The ESA spacecraft ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is scheduled to arrive at Mars on 19 October 2016 and land a demonstration module, named Schiaparelli. The preparation and execution of these critical operations, controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt, is supported by expert staff from Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a joint venture between Leonardo-Finmeccanica and Thales).
The Telespazio VEGA Deutschland experts, under an overall ESA lead, are members of the ESOC Flight Control Team (FCT) and Software Support Team (SWS) which will be facing a challenging phase of the mission: On 16 October the separation of the Lander Module – Schiaparelli – from the TGO mothership; on 17 October the TGO orbit raising manoeuvre; and the critical burn of the TGO on 19 October, to insert the spacecraft into the orbit around Mars. Also on the 19 of October, Schiaparelli is scheduled to land on Mars.
he manoeuvres have been intensely trained over the past three months: The FCT and SWS had to undergo simulation campaigns at ESOC to train nominal and contingency scenarios: These training sessions were developed and led by two experienced Telespazio VEGA he manoeuvres have been intensely trained over the past three months: The FCT and SWS had to undergo simulation campaigns at ESOC to train nominal and contingency scenarios: These training sessions were developed and led by two experienced Telespazio VEGA Simulation Officers, using the Operational Simulator that the company developed for the ExoMars TGO, together with other partners.
The precise approach, separation and orbit insertion manoeuvre has been thoroughly prepared by the ESOC Flight Dynamics Team, to which Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is providing highly qualified staff. Additional support from the company is provided to the ESA mission through staff in ESA Ground Station Operations and ICT Engineering.
Many other mission-critical ground systems, used to control the ExoMars TGO and plan its activities, have been developed for ESA by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and further partners, such as the Mission Planning System (MPS) and the Mission Control System (MCS).
ExoMars is an exciting Mars exploration programme made possible by a large international cooperation between ESA and Roscosmos. The prime contractor responsible for the ExoMars spacecraft in Europe is Thales Alenia Space (a Thales/Leonardo-Finmeccanica company) and many of the technologies on-board have been developed by Leonardo-Finmeccanica.
The first phase of the programme involves a Mars Trace Gas Orbiter satellite launched in March 2016 that includes an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstration Module. In a second phase, in 2020, a Mars Rover and a Surface Platform will be launched, building on the experience gained through these first steps. The 2020 ExoMars Rover is designed to search for traces of past and present life by collecting and analysing sub-soil samples with a drill, developed by Leonardo-Finmeccanica, and a powerful set of instruments. ExoMars will demonstrate new technologies that will help to pave the way for a future Mars sample return mission.
PN_ExoMars Arrival English 2016-10-14.pdf
Thumbnail: Schiaparelli separating from Trace Gas Orbiter / Copyright ESA–D. Ducros
Simulation: Mars Team training critical manoevres / Copyright ESA/ J. Mai
Tel: +49 (0) 6151 8257-764
| September 2016 |
Rosetta mission end supported by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Press note - Darmstadt, 27 September 2016
The Aerospace Company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Leonardo/Thales), will be supporting the final phase of ESA’s Rosetta mission, controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC/ESA) in Darmstadt. The spacecraft is scheduled to soft-land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 30 September 2016.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland staff is and has been part of the Flight Control, Ground Station Operations as well as of the Flight Dynamics Teams of the Rosetta mission ever since the late 1990s. The company has been also involved in the development of key ground systems for the mission. This level of service stability for over 16 years was made possible through the continuous successes of the company to re-qualify for each five-year ESOC Frame Contract that has been issued since the early stages of the Rosetta programme.
This long-term support to the Rosetta mission, under the lead of an ESA Flight Director, has had several benefits for both Telespazio VEGA Deutschland staff as well as for the client ESOC: the staff gained in-depth knowledge and expertise of a unique mission, while the continuity of service ensured that this knowledge was maintained and optimally utilised on the mission. Since Rosetta will be turned off the moment it touches down, the mission will come to a scheduled end. The Telespazio VEGA Deutschland employees working on Rosetta will then be transitioned to other missions which will benefit from their experience.
In detail, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been involved in the following activities within the Rosetta Mission:
Development of a simulator for the Rosetta orbiter: The simulator has been used by ESOC to support flight control activities during the various phases of the mission: LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase), the different flybys and gravity assists, hibernation, approach & orbit around the comet and now soft landing. The training & simulation campaigns have been led by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland experts.
Development of ground systems: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has developed the Rosetta Mission Planning System (MPS), as well as the Mission Control System (MCS), which are and were used to plan, schedule, to monitor and to control the many different activities of the spacecraft over the years. Naturally, various technology upgrades of these systems have also been performed during the mission lifetime.
Operations: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland experts are part of the ESOC Flight Control and Flight Dynamics teams, ICT Engineering, Ground Station Engineering as well as Administration teams.
Philae Lander: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the operations team of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) at MUSC in Cologne during the various mission phases of Philae. This support included technical management, development of the Philae simulator; Ground Segment and interface development to allow the international team to support operations; 3D animations of both orbiter and lander, as well as Flight Control during the Philae cruise, landing and scientific phase.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is not the only entity within the Leonardo-Finmeccanica Group to contribute to the mission: Many of the Rosetta’s on-board and ground-based instruments, as well as those of the mission's Philae lander, are made by Leonardo-Finmeccanica in collaboration with key scientific and academic institutions under the coordination of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
In particular, the company provided the ‘space drill’, known as the Sample Drill and Distribution (SD2) system, to dig into the comet’s soil surface to a depth of 30 centimetre acquiring samples of material from the comet.
In addition to the SD2, Leonardo also developed for the Italian Space Agency innovative robotic systems and sophisticated electro-optical instruments based on hyperspectral technologies. These include the A-STR Autonomous Star TRacker, which correctly orientated the Rosetta probe in space and adjusted the antenna to allow signals to be received from Earth; the NAVCAM camera, which aided in the probe’s navigation; the VIRTIS (Visible InfraRed and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) instrument which measured the temperature of various features on the comet; the GIADA (Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator) which analysed the comet’s dust and particles and the photovoltaic assembly for the probe. Other smaller solar panels covering 2 square metres were installed on the Philae lander’s surface, generating the power for its on-board instruments to work on the comet surface.
Tel: +49 (0) 6151 8257-764
Press note as pdf
Thumbnail: Rosetta approaching comet
Copyright: Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
| August 2016 |
Telespazio VEGA secures business relationship with ESOC for another five years
Press release - Darmstadt, 3 August 2016
The Aerospace Company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Leonardo/Thales) has successfully qualified for the Frame Contract with the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) of the European Space Agency (ESA). With this, the company has secured more than 160 existing jobs for the next five years.
The areas of activity in the Frame Contract range from system development to 24/7 satellite operations. More specifically the Frame Contract covers six disciplines: satellite operations, operations engineering, IT services, ground station operations, data systems development and flight dynamics & navigation. The consortium led by Telespazio VEGA, was the only one that bid for all six disciplines, and was evaluated with high scores overall in comparison to the competing consortia.
This outstanding outcome is a success for the whole of the international Telespazio VEGA consortium, which includes Serco Services, CGI Deutschland and CGI UK, Telespazio SpA, Rartel, Rhea System S.A., Hessentech, Solenix Deutschland, Thorn Sicherheits GmbH, VisionSpace Technologies, PosiTim and the TU Darmstadt.
The initial work awarded to the consortium covers 47% of the contract volume in the above mentioned six disciplines.
Sigmar Keller, Chief Executive Officer, is very pleased with the strong position of the company as expert in ground data systems development and operations engineering:
„It is the first time that ESOC combines so many disciplines in one contract. The Frame Contract is definitely one of the most important ones for our company and we are very proud of the result we achieved. This underlines our expertise, our long standing relationship with ESOC, as well as our excellent cooperation with our consortium partners.“
PR_ESOC Frame Contract_ English_2016_08_03.pdf
| July 2016 |
Australia - Helicopter Simulator undergoing Final Acceptance Test and Evaluation
Over the past 12 months, the Training Solutions team in Telespazio VEGA has been working on a tight schedule to finish the development of the Aircraft Systems Trainer (AST) for the Australian MRH90 Helicopter. The AST, including a replicated cockpit has been delivered last week to Airbus Group Australia Pacific. The AST will be used by the Rotary Wing Aircraft Maintenance School (RAMS) of the Australian Army in Oakey, Queensland, Australia.
The set-up now consists of the replicated cockpit which has been shipped to and has been re-assembled in Australia; the computer infrastructure, consisting of a server and about 20 PCs; and the networked training classroom consisting of 12 student workstations with 4 screens each and an instructor station.
Prior to the Final Acceptance Test and Evaluation (FATE), a set of training sessions has been conducted in order to teach the instructors of the Australian Forces how to use and also how to maintain the simulator. Once operational, the AST hardware will be maintained by Airbus staff on-site. Already after the first day of training, the Training Solutions team was able to report first success
- At the end of the first day, the future instructors were familiar enough with the system to perform a maintenance procedure consisting of 230 steps in less than an hour
- Instructors who work with the real helicopter got along with the AST immediately
Final Acceptance Test and Evaluation (FATE)
On 15 July, finally, the Test Readiness Review (TRR) for the Final Acceptance Test and Evaluation (FATE) of the MRH90AST has successfully been passed!
Now that this important milestone has been accomplished, the door to the final project phase is open. FATE will extend over another week and the AST will be tested in depth by several representatives of the end-user.
The MRH90 AST "Kangaroo team", checking out the real helicopter.
About the MRH90 AST project
The Australian MRH90 helicopter is similar to the European version, known as NH90 TTH. Within its NH90 training product line, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has previously developed a Virtual Maintenance Trainer (VMT) which is being used by the Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and French Armed Forces. The MRH90 AST confirms the confidence that customers have been placing in Telespazio VEGA’s simulation-based training solutions for over 20 years.
Press release 23 March 2015: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland to develop Aircraft Systems Trainer for MRH90 Helicopter
| June 2016 |
Having more fun with end-to-end solutions
Latest after the recent WhatsApp update, everyone knows the term end-to-end encryption. End-to-end solutions in space though? Is space not the equivalent of infinity? We have spoken with Chief Operations Officer, Yves Constantin, wanting to know more.
Question: There is more and more talk of end-to-end, but all in different contexts. Can you explain what is meant by end-to-end in the space context?
Yves Constantin: Complex systems have in fact several ‘ends’. On the one hand we are speaking of a whole number of sub-areas to be taken care of, in order to make a mission successful. For the case of a Ground Segment for example we need as a minimum a ground station with antennae, hardware and software for sending and receiving of data. Then we need a control centre from where the satellite is being controlled – and of course the necessary control systems and planning systems enabling this. And last but not least the payload data that the satellite is collecting sending us back, needs to be further processed into a format that is useful for the end user.
On the other hand we are speaking also about the value chain within each single sub-area: You need many clever heads to make concepts, to plan, develop, operate, maintain or further develop them. We as a company may become expert in one of these areas and dive into the depth of the matter. Or you decide to grow beyond and gradually become expert in all of these areas. Then we are talking about end-to-end: From the planning stage to the use of data. This is after all why we do it: Because of the data in which we are curious; they bring us further, in science, development or knowledge about the Earth and Space.
What does that mean exactly? In which area do you need to be a specialist?
Yves Constantin: First we need to be really good in all these areas and understand how they influence each other. Above all, you need to understand how the different interfaces work together and say goodbye to our insular thinking. For example, involving operations teams already at the beginning of the design of a control system may lead to a different solution.
Isn’t this being done already?
Yves Constantin: Of course there is collaboration. The difference between an end-to-end solution in comparison with a solution that involves many different service providers shows in the amount of effort for the client and the cost that he has. If the client decides to distribute contracts to several partners, he has to provide more preparatory work and define the interfaces. If not, everybody goes their own way. Bringing them together takes time. However if he decides to give one single contract to a service provider who takes care of everything, he needs to have faith that we do it well – but the client will also save the effort, time and cost.
Does this mean, looking from the service provider’s perspective, such as Telespazio VEGA, that this causes more responsibility and more work?
Yves Constantin laughs): First of all it means securing jobs! We don’t bid for contracts to cause more work but because we want to give work to our employees. But seriously: You just have more fun in an end-to-end contract. You can grow your knowledge, you have more exchange between the teams – and less interaction cost for the client. The potential for optimising the solution is also bigger since everything is in one hand. And if the playground is bigger there is also more opportunity for creativity and ingenuity. For this, we like to take the responsibility.
Want to know more about what we do? Check our portfolio, exciting jobs and the recent news on exciting projects!
| May 2016 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland exhibits at ILA Berlin Airshow
Press release - Berlin, 31 May 2016
The aerospace company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, the German subsidiary of Telespazio (a Leonardo and Thales company), will be exhibiting at this year’s ILA Berlin Airshow, taking place from 1-4 June 2016 at the Berlin Expo Centre Schönefeld. The event is known to be one of the most important aerospace trade fairs in Europe.
Telespazio VEGA has decided to showcase a variety of solutions to the trade and public visitors, ranging from support to well-known space missions, the provision of training solutions for the aviation sector to large space broadband offerings. Sister company GAF, an e-GEOS company (80% controlled by Telespazio with 20% participation by the Italian Space Agency) will be co-exhibiting their capabilities in geoinformation services.
During the industry days (1-2 June), Telespazio VEGA will provide dedicated technology demonstrations to the trade visitors: At the main stand of Telespazio VEGA (Hall 4, 406), the company will showcase a Virtual Maintenance Trainer, developed for the NH90 transport helicopter. Outside hall 4, the space company will also highlight the use cases of space for earth through a demonstration of easy internet access via satellite.
In addition to this, Telespazio VEGA has played an active role in contributing to the BDLI Space Pavilion, a unique world of experience highlighting the capabilities of the German Space Industry:
In the Space Pavilion, public and trade visitors will be able to learn how to control satellites after they have been launched into space: an interactive simulation will be offered to guide the visitor. Telespazio VEGA is supporting this activity to promote the importance of the Ground Segment for every space mission. The company is involved in many of the space missions that will be on display in the Space Pavilion.
Telespazio VEGA is an active member of the BDLI, the German Aerospace Association, one of the organisers of ILA Berlin Airshow. ILA is organised by BDLI and Messe Berlin.
Press release_ILABerlinAirshow 2016_English.pdf
| May 2016 |
Where is Galileo? We know who knows!
On 24 May 2016 at 10:48 CEST, another two Galileo satellites are scheduled to launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. They will join the existing constellation of 12 navigation satellites orbiting our Earth.
Navigation is highly important for institutional, private and commercial users on our planet; accurate positioning is useful for all types of transportation, agriculture, and also the casual athlete on their Sunday run. But we need to know one thing first to determine our position on the Earth: where the satellites actually are!
Navigation for Navigation
We spoke to two of our Telespazio VEGA colleagues in the Navigation Support Office at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, who can answer this question. Telespazio VEGA is one out of several companies involved in the Navigation Support Office activities.
“We are looking forward to the time after the launch,”
explains Gwendolyn Läufer, Navigation Engineer in the ESOC Navigation Support Office. “Our work starts during the commissioning phase, the moment the satellite starts transmitting signals, a couple of weeks after launch Users are waiting to see how the navigation solutions improve with two more satellites added to the constellation. And we want to be the first to impress them with centimetre-level orbit predictions of the satellites, predictions that are necessary for the most exciting and exact uses of navigation signals
Looking forward to the launch and first position determination: Gwen and our Telespazio VEGA colleagues in the Navigation Facility. - Photo: Jürgen Mai.
These accurate orbit predictions are possible because of one special fact about navigation satellites: they are constantly broadcasting a signal specifically designed for positioning! This signal can be received by Galileo receivers all around the Earth; in turn, these receivers provide a constant flow of highly accurate position information used to measure and predict the precise Galileo satellite orbits. In contrast, the orbits of other spacecraft, for example interplanetary probes, must be determined using only their own instruments and information from short uplink and downlink sessions with the ground.
Something to be proud of
“The Navigation Support Office was the first analysis centre to perform precise orbit determination for newly launched Galileo satellites,” adds Adam Vigneron, Software Engineer and also Telespazio VEGA colleague. “It's something we're quite proud of! Imagine this: We calculate a prediction of the satellite’s position with an accuracy of up to 5 centimetres, with the satellite moving at a distance of 23.222 km from Earth. That’s comparable of knowing the position of one human hair currently moving around Wiesbaden while we are on Darmstadt’s Mathildenhöhe!”
Gwen and Adam confirmed they would both be watching the Galileo launch on 24 May to have a first look which challenges lie ahead. We wish them and the Navigation team an exciting run for the first orbit determination!
Telespazio VEGA and Galileo
Telespazio VEGA is highly involved in Galileo in many aspects. Throughout our company, around 35 people are contributing to the programme, among others in the ESOC Navigation Facility.
In the Software Solutions area, Telespazio VEGA is or has been in charge of different ground systems for Galileo, constantly evolving with the system’s needs:
- For the development of the Constellation Simulator (CSIM) for the entire Galileo constellation, and related trainings of the Flight Control Team
- As Prime-Contractor for the development of the hardware-in-the-loop simulator
- As the company in charge of the Assembly, Integration & Validation Platform (AIVP) for the Ground Mission Segment
- During the In-Orbit-Validation-Phase (IOV), we supported the testing and validation of the very first four Galileo Satellites
- We developed the Galileo System Simulation Facility (GSSF): a tool to assess the functional and performance behaviour of the Galileo satellite navigation system
- Several colleagues have been involved in the Mission Segment Validation through the Thales Alenia Space team in Ditzingen, Germany.
Prior to the launch, our colleagues in the ICT Team located at ESOC in Darmstadt have ensured that the networks and ICT systems are optimised for the LEOP. With this in mind, we are ready for operations!
And we are also proud that a large number of our staff are or will be part of operations during the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) and then later for routine operations.
- At the Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Telespazio VEGA forms a large part of the permanent Flight Control Team and is providing also the Mission Director for the LEOP through spaceopal.
- And since the LEOP will be supported also from the ESOC in Darmstadt, the Flight Control Team there can also count on Telespazio VEGA spacecraft operations engineers in charge of data handling, AOCS as well as Power and Thermal.
- At the same time, the Telespazio VEGA GIMUS Team (Ground Infrastructure Maintenance and User Support) will provide additional support for the Ground Station Software Systems during LEOP.
The launch will be covered via live video stream on www.esa.int.
Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.
ESA: Navigation Facility - Galileo
DLR: Galileo Control CentreOberpfaffenhofen
Telespazio: The Group's involvement - spaceopal - Galileo Control Centre Fucino
| April 2016 |
How Sentinel-1B keeps us busy
People around the world will be looking at the next Sentinel launch, scheduled for 22 April 2016 at 23:02 CET hrs from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Only, for different reasons: While for some teams the real work begins after the launch, for others it will represent the peak of their activities or a change of activities.
With Telespazio VEGA Deutschland’s teams as example, many different specialists have been contributing to ESA's Sentinel-1 mission, both the A and now also the B satellite in the areas of Ground Segment Systems, Systems Engineering and ICT.
Sentinel: A good mission to work on
Over the past months, a team from Telespazio VEGA has been preparing the necessary ICT infrastructure at the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, needed for the Sentinel-1B launch and the Launch-and-Early-Orbit-Phase which follows. After its completion, the team will continue their “every day” job: Ensuring smooth routine operations.
On the other hand, for the Telespazio VEGA team behind a core element of the ground segment, the launch has a different significance: The team has been contributing to the development of the Sentinel-1 Payload Data Ground Segment for ESA already much earlier; the two core subsystems – the PDGS Monitoring and Reporting (PMR) and the PDGS Resource Monitoring, Alarm and Control (RMA) – have already been deployed at seven Sentinel-1 Stations and have been operational ever since the Sentinel-1A launch in 3rd April 2014. ESA's Sentinel satellite, which will be joining its identical twin, can rely on the existing systems and trained teams onsite to fulfil its mission.
The teams that are probably most excited about the launch, are those located at ESOC, such as the Flight Control Team or Ground Operations Teams that are partly Telespazio VEGA staff - – under the overall leadership of an ESA “Flight Director”. Once launched, the real satellite will be handed over to them for the first time. They have been prepared by expert simulations officers for this “moment” and the operations, among others also by a Telespazio VEGA colleague. Of course, we hope that the simulations were realistic enough to make the transition into real operations as smooth as possible – and the perceived change will not be as noticeable.
About Sentinel-1B and Copernicus
The Sentinels, a new fleet of ESA satellites, are delivering a wealth of data and imagery that are central to Europe’s Copernicus programme. The first in the series, Sentinel-1, carries an advanced radar instrument to provide an all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery of Earth’s surface.
Thumbnail: Sentinel-1B heading for orbit (ESA / ATG medialab)
Telespazio’s role in the Copernicus programme and inSentinel-1B
Copernicus Programme Website
ESA and Copernicus and in particular Sentinel-1B - ESA Space Operations in Darmstadt
EUMETSAT and Copernicus
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and Sentinel-3: PDGS - Operations
| April 2016 |
Agriloc User Workshop hosted by Telespazio VEGA
Anyone who has ever sat on a tractor would easily get the impression that this is something like a rolling high tech control centre. Long gone are the times of rural offline romance. Nowadays, agricultural machines are not only fully automated and digitalised; they depend on a permanent connection to the internet, even in the event that 30 schoolkids would use their smartphones simultaneously in a passing bus, challenging the mobile network to the fullest.
Into this gap steps the project agriloc, which last week has been paying a visit to Telespazio VEGA Deutschland for the first time. During this third User Workshop, requirements of big farmers, end users and experts have been discussed, who are all relying on a permanent connection to the internet, for instance to ensure accuracy of positioning to the centimetre and automatic control of the tractor.
The tractor goes online - via satellite
Among the participants were also those companies developing the new technology, looking for feedback from users and end users, urgently needed. In that frame, Telespazio VEGA develops a satellite modem, which can be integrated into the tractor easily. In case of a poor GSM or LTE connection, the modem will automatically come to life and take over the data transmission via satellite. During test campaigns, the driver can see which transmission path is currently used thanks to a dedicated app. The necessary uplink- and downlink bandwidth is also provided by Telespazio.
The agriloc user workshop participants: Experts on Space Technology, Farming vehicles and Testing.
Osman Kalden, in-house manager of this development at Telespazio VEGA, was very satisfied with the feedback received during the Workshop. ‘To us it is really important to be able to speak to the end user and to get direct feedback. It will be down to very basic questions, if the system can be used eventually. Like if the interfaces of the modem match to those of the tractor, how user friendly the system is, if the bandwidth is sufficient, how fail-safe it needs to be or what performance farmers are really expecting. These are all questions that only experts with hands-on experience can answer.’
Thoroughly controlled - thoroughly tested
Using a permanent internet connection and receiving more accurate positioning data, also puts John Deere, international manufacturer of agricultural vehicles, in a position, where they can improve their products. More accurate positioning data also means that the automatic control needs to be developed further. And then the question to the end user arises: how precise can and must the control achieved be? On huge agricultural surfaces eventually every centimetre and every degree of deviation counts.
It is the duty of the German Agricultural Society (DLG), whose representatives have closely followed the Workshop, to clarify if the components can work together effectively in the end. For only if the new technology has been tested and certified successfully, it can be put on the market after the demo phase in March 2018 and can then be beneficial for many end users.
‘There will be many more Workshops before we have a product that is ready for serial production’, continues Osman Kalden. ‘Until that date we have to carry on developing, testing und reassuring ourselves that we are delivering the product that the customers, i.e. the farmers, need.’
However, at the end of the Workshop the attendees were allowed leaving their area of expertise for a moment to take a guided tour through ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre nearby. And also there they found experts on accurate navigation; for example on Earth but also when it comes to journeys to distant comets.
Thumbnail: John Deere
Agriloc on the ESA ARTES 20 Website
John Deere Website
Satellite communication portfolio in Germany
Networks & Connectivity in Telespazio
| April 2016 |
Telespazio VEGA employee joins suborbital flight programme
Performing research under micro-gravity conditions is not exactly a new trend; Telespazio VEGA has been active in this sector for years and has been helping researchers to find the right suborbital vehicle for their payload and research objectives.
What is new this year: Telespazio VEGA employee Ahmed Farid has successfully applied with a program called POSSUM to perform practical suborbital flights. Supported by the company, his onsite classes have started this week and we can expect to get exciting insights!
Apart from the simulations and real high-g flights, Ahmed will be following onsite classes, for example to learn about the mesosphere, concept of remote sensing, noctilucent cloud observations, aerospace physiology, how to operate a spacesuit and much more. Updates on his activities are published on the POSSUM Facebook Fan page as well as on the Telespazio VEGA Twitter account.
Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) is a non-profit suborbital research program devoted to the ongoing observation of our upper atmosphere. PoSSUM Instrumentation is supported by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program as the 'Noctilucent Cloud Imagery and Tomography Experiment’.
The mission is to conduct novel upper-atmospheric research enabled by next generation commercial space vehicles now become operational. Side research gained is to better understand climate change gasses. The scientist Astronaut program graduates will communicate this science to the general public, and the understanding of the global climate to have a global solution. The program graduates come from over twenty countries and all six continents.
About Suborbital Space Flight in Telespazio VEGA
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland offers a competitive way too access microgravity conditions in space, through flexible, efficient & cost effective suborbital spaceflights. Telespazio VEGA provides an end-to-end package of services for each key step of the suborbital flight, from initial enquiry through payload integration, to the return of the payload to its customer after the flight.
POSSUM on Facebook and on Twitter
Telespazio VEGA on Twitter
Suborbital Space Flight offering
SubSpace Fact Sheet
| March 2016 |
Darmstadt High Technology Company supports European ExoMars mission
Press note - Darmstadt, 11 March 2016
On 14 March 2016 at 9:30 CET hrs, the ESA/Roscosmos spacecraft ExoMars TGO is planned to start its journey to Mars. High technology from and in Darmstadt is part of the journey. The company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a Finmeccanica/Thales company) has been contributing mission-critical Systems and highly qualified personnel to the mission since 2013.
These systems are being used at the European Space Control Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt: One of them is the satellite simulator which the Flight Control Team uses to prepare for the mission by testing and training different scenarios. This training plan was developed by two experienced Telespazio VEGA staff, the Simulation Officers who trained the Flight Control Team, following the lead of a "flight director" at the European Space Agency (ESA). During the ExoMars Mission, the simulator will be used to test and train future manoeuvres and further critical operations.
Another system which is needed by the Flight Control Team is the Mission Control System (MCS), also developed by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in Darmstadt. It will be used to control the spacecraft from Earth. The MCS reads and interprets the data exchanged between the spacecraft and Earth: Whether it is data received by the satellite or commands that the Flight Control Team sends to it.
In addition to this, the company has developed the Mission Planning System (MPS), which is needed to plan all the spacecraft’s activities. This system is based on the experience of two other MPSs for exploration missions: The Rosetta and the BepiColombo MPS, both developed or under current development in Telespazio VEGA. The benefit: exploration missions have similar activities to be planned. The ExoMars MPS therefore needed “only” a re-configuration and thus, saved development time.
At ESA/ESOC, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland staff will be at the front row: Many of the company’s staff have supported the pre-launch activities, are part of the Flight Control Team during the LEOP and will also be part of the routine operations Flight Control Team. Also, several members of the Flight Dynamics Team, the operational ICT team and the Ground Station Operations Team at ESOC are Telespazio VEGA staff.
At the headquarters of the Telespazio Group they are already looking forward to the ExoMars 2018 mission: Telespazio has developed, designed and will be maintaining the communication infrastructure (RGCI) for the Rover Control Centre (ROCC). The RGCI is needed to communicate with the rover, for example in order to receive telemetry or send commands.
ExoMars is an exciting Mars exploration programme made possible by a large international cooperation with Roscosmos. The prime contractor responsible for the ExoMars spacecraft in Europe is Thales Alenia Space (a Thales/Finmeccanica company). The first phase of the programme involves a Mars Trace Gas Orbiter satellite to be launched in 2016 that includes an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstration Module.
In a second phase, to be launched in 2018, a Mars Rover and a Surface Platform will be launched building on the experience gained through these first steps. The 2018 ExoMars rover is designed to search for traces of past and present life by collecting and analysing sub-soil samples with a drill and a powerful set of instruments. ExoMars will demonstrate new technologies that will help to pave the way for a future Mars sample return mission.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA
ExoMars 2016 Darmstadt_TelespazioVEGA_EN.pdf
Watch the launch live
More about the mission: ESA website - ESA/ESOC
Social Media: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland - ExoMars Mission - ExoMars Orbiter
| March 2016 |
CeBIT: Internet via Satellite is on the rise
Press note - Darmstadt, 10 March 2016
Being always online, be it people or machines, is a must nowadays. But not always mobile or terrestrial networks are available. In the future, providers of internet connectivity will focus more on the right mix of technologies at the right moment. One of them is internet via satellite.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland will be presenting this technology on the Vodafone Expo Stand at CeBIT. Internet via satellite will be a permanent part of the Vodafone offering and is targeted at B2B clients that cannot do business without permanent and secure connectivity. Vodafone clients with highest requirements for secure and redundant internet connection can now additionally book internet via satellite to the existing Vodafone landline or mobile solution.
This technology is a growing market for Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. Compared to the previous year, turnover in this business area was doubled. And more and more sectors are becoming interested: Companies with distributed sites add satellite technology to their internet access mix; as did the foundry Durrans. Also companies in the countryside turn towards the new solution: Agricultural businesses and farms switch more and more to satellite technology. Also mobile business depend on permanent and secure internet connection: The German Sparkassen have been closing bank branch offices in the countryside, replacing them with mobile branches in trucks, needing connectivity: They have been working together with Telespazio VEGA for years and their number is increasing.
There is also potential for satellite technology for the internet of things: Machine-to-machine communication relies also on permanent access to the internet in order to function properly. Those taking internet via satellite into account can be sure to have less outages, higher availability and global coverage, together with seamless integration with existing internet accesses means.
Sigmar Keller, Managing Director of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, commented on these developments before CeBIT:
“Only at the beginning of the year, we have been confirmed to be a strategic partner to Vodafone. This is an honor for us, because we are now part of the few top companies that can shape the market with Vodafone. The user demand, that Vodafone has clearly identified, shows that nobody is willing or able to do business without internet. And of course we are more than happy to contribute to this demand with our technology.”
The Vodafone Partner stand at CeBIT is located in hall 13, stand B76. CeBIT takes place from 14-18 March 2016 on the Hannovermesse premises and is the largest IT 6 Digital Business exhibition worldwide.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is a subsidiary of Telespazio (A Finmeccanica/Thales Company). Telespazio has been an expert on providing network & connectivity solutions to its clients for more than 50 years.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland at CeBIT - Event page
Network & Connectivity offering
| February 2016 |
Faster, better, Sentinel 3!
While Europe is waiting for the launch of the next Sentinel satellite, some people on Earth have already ensured that it will be, in fact, possible to operate it. Sentinel-3, which is planned to launch on 16 February 2016 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, will join the other Copernicus programme satellites in monitoring our Earth; and Sentinel-3 for example to monitor our oceans and land.
While Telespazio VEGA will also be part of the Sentinel-3 Flight Control Team for the LEOP, performed by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and for full Operations at EUMETSAT as of July 2016, it has already been involved in the mission during the past years; providing essential contributions to systems that are key for the users interested in Copernicus data: The Payload Data Ground Segment (PDGS).
User requirements have grown more and more over the years. For example, users want the data from satellites to be provided in better quality and faster than before. One possibility to meet these requirements is to process the satellite data better or faster.
The Core Payload Data Ground Segment is primarily in charge of receiving and processing Sentinel-3 instrument payload data. So whatever the user requirements are, the PDGS ensures that they are covered – always looking at the physical constraints of the satellite or what is possible with the current technology. This way, user requirements for a certain quality or timeliness constraints can be met, such as in the case of Sentinel-3:
- Near-Real-Time (NRT), within 3 hours after sensing
- Short-Time-Critical (STC), within 48 hours after sensing, applicable to SRAL products only
- Non-Time-Critical (NTC), within 1 month after sensing.
Process it where you receive it
So far, the PDGS has been deployed on seven different sites, each implementing a share of the overall product processing chain:
- At the Primary Core Ground Station (CGS) at Svalbard, providing X–Band service, together with the NRT processing chains for the Land products
- at a Marine Centre, hosting the NRT and STC/NTC production for all Marine products, as well as their own Mission Performance Monitoring function
- at three Land Processing and Archiving Centres (PAC’s) for the NTC production of the Land productst three Land Processing and Archiving Centres (PAC’s) for the NTC production of the Land products
- at a Mission Performance Centre hosting the Mission Performance Monitoring function for Land products
- and at a Payload Data Management Centre (PDMC) from where the Land Centres (CGS and PACs) operations can be coordinated.
Revealing the colour of ocean life - Source / Copyright: ESA/ATG medialab
Successful in the past and in the future
Telespazio VEGA has been the Prime Contractor to ESA/ESRIN (in collaboration with EUMETSAT) to develop this challenging PDGS for Sentinel-3 and has led a large Consortium including Telespazio SpA and several of the Telespazio Group companies, ACS, WERUM, ACRI, CLS, Harris and DEIMOS. However, this does not mean that now the team can lean back and leave the system to itself! Once launched and in operation, the PDGS needs thorough maintenance.
Only at the beginning of 2016, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been awarded a contract by EUMETSAT to cover the maintenance of the Sentinel-3 PDGS for the next two years with the option to extend it for another two, of course following the motto “Faster, better, Sentinel-3!”
Telespazio’s role in the Copernicus programme
Copernicus Programme Website
EUMETSAT and Copernicus
ESA and Copernicus
Sentinel-3 on the ESA website / Sentinel-3 on the EUMETSAT website
Thumbnail: Artist's impression of Sentinel-3
Copyright: ESA - Pierre Carril
| January 2016 |
Management Change in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Press note - Darmstadt, 15 January 2016
After 26 years, John Lewis is retiring as Managing Director of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and is confiding the leadership of the company to the two remaining Managing Directors, Sigmar Keller (CEO) and Yves Constantin (COO).
With the change of leadership, effective as of 1 January 2016, the tasks are reassigned: John Lewis’ activities in Sales and Business Development are now under full responsibility of Zeina Mounzer (CCO) who has already taken on the position in March 2015. The responsibilities for product policy management as well as activities in aerospace associations, committees and working groups will be reassigned in the course of the year. John Lewis he will continue to collaborate with the company and share his expertise and experience.
The employees were already informed about the management change towards the end of last year. At this occasion, Sigmar Keller took the opportunity to thank John Lewis for the longstanding collaboration:
“In all these years, John Lewis has contributed considerably to the company’s success. Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This is why I am happy to continue this collaboration in order to keep John’s valuable experience in the company and also, in order to allow him a suitable transition into a new phase in his life.”
| December 2015 |
Expert Smalltalk about the MTG Ground Segment and why weather is not boring at all
With the Christmas season on its way, you will certainly attend one Christmas Party, Dinner or other events in December. Events that you sometimes even don’t want to attend but you are expected to be there. How dreadful! You will meet new people or even people you might not like; but have to talk to them. Most people will now say, if you don’t know what to talk about, talk about the weather! Sounds boring? It isn’t actually…
Providing you with some background information
Weather plays a crucial part in our life. It doesn’t affect only what you might want to wear during the day or how long you will need to scrape the ice of your car. Many industries are highly dependent on ideal weather conditions. Think only of air or sea traffic, transportation, the construction industry, agriculture, water or disaster management. And all their demands and dependencies on the weather have increased over the years: more frequent updates, more accurate forecasts, and more data.
EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, is therefore preparing a new programme of weather satellites, called the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG). It will consist of six satellites, out of which four will be imaging satellites and two sounding satellites, and an associated Ground Segment. The programme is expected to guarantee space-acquired weather data until at least the late 2040s.
An important part of the Ground Segment are the ground station facilities required to communicate with the satellites, to receive data and to control the satellite status and orbital position. In fact, EUMETSAT has awarded Telespazio SpA both contracts for the design, development, procurement, maintenance and local operations of those ground station facilities.
There are many reasons why MTG needs new and dedicated ground station facilities. Among others, MTG uses advanced communication techniques that are not supported by the grounds segment of the Meteosat Second Generation, the current system. In addition, MTG satellites will generate a much higher volume of data, which makes separate facilities for data acquisition (Mission Data Acquisition Facilitiy – MDAF) and satellite control (Tracking, Telemetry and Command Ground Stations Facility - TTCF) a must.
In total, the MTG Ground Segment will require four dedicated teleports, two MDA Facilities with two antennas each and two TTC Facilities with one antenna each. They will be based on two separated teleport sites for redundancy reasons.
Telespazio Teleport in Fucino - (C) Telespazio
Based on its know-how, experience and its competitiveness, Telespazio won both open ITTs released by EUMETSAT for MTG ground stations. Telespazio is already a well-known Ground Station integrator and operator. The Ground Station for the Meteosat first generation has been provided by Telespazio in Fucino and is still operating. Two of the four teleport sites are owned and operated by Telespazio: Fucino (TTCF) and Lario (MDAF). The other two sites are in Switzerland (MDAF) and in Romania (TTCF). The two MDAF sites are relatively close to each other, but are located in areas that experience different meteorological conditions minimizing their effects on communication between the satellites and the Earth.
Support to EUMETSAT Headquarters in Darmstadt
Darmstadt is the home town of both EUMETSAT and Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio. This proved to be an ideal constellation to support EUMETSAT Headquarter that controls the MTG satellites, with the integration, support and long-term maintenance of the link to the Ground Stations.
In order to be able to support EUMETSAT in the best way, Telespazio VEGA will accompany the development process and gather the necessary knowledge, for example during the design phase, factory production, integration, testing and acceptance phase. Once developed, the company will take care also of the 1st and 2nd line maintenance responsibility for the systems installed at EUMETSAT Headquarters. All this, for the next 20 years.
Lario Teleport - Panorama view - (C) Telespazio
Ready for Smalltalk
We guess you wouldn’t have thought about all this when starting a conversation about the weather. Not only there are many industries depending on it; there is also a large industry taking care of the data, their acquisition, the satellites and their control, the infrastructure, communication and their maintenance. With all this in mind, Telespazio VEGA wishes all its readers interesting talks at the upcoming Christmas Parties and seasonal events you might attend.
Background Information for techies
Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TTC) Ground Stations Facility (TTCF)The purpose of the TTC Facility is to provide the S-band telemetry (TM), telecommand (TC) and ranging (RNG) interfaces with in-orbit EUMETSAT MTG satellites. The TTCF provides the interface between the Space Segment and both the Mission and Control Centre (MCC) at the EUMETSAT Headquarters and the Back-up Satellite Control Centre (BSCC) for the S-Band Satellite TTC subsystem. The Facility consists of all equipment required to perform TC, TM and RNG functions in accordance with the relevant ECSS standards. It includes also Network and Monitoring & Control (M&C) capabilities, and the BSCC hosting.
MTG Mission Data Acquisition Facility (MDAF)
The purpose of the MDAF is to provide the interface between the Space Segment and the Mission control Centre at the EUMETSAT Headquarters for the Ka-band Payload Data. The Facility includes Radio Frequency interfaces to the MTG satellites. After down-conversion, demodulation and consolidation, it provides the data to other facilities of the MTG Ground Segment. It includes also Network and Monitoring & Control (M&C) capabilities. The consolidation equipment has the purpose selecting the best quality data received from the two Ground Stations in real time, and is located at EUMETSAT Headquarters.
Meteosat Third Generation
MTG is a programme managed by EUMETSAT in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). The first MTG-I and MTG-S satellite prototypes are being developed by ESA. A European consortium led by Thales Alenia Space France, a Thales/ Finmeccanica company, has been awarded the contract by ESA to build the MTG spacecraft on behalf of EUMETSAT. EUMETSAT develops and procures the full ground segment and the launch services, will integrate the end to end systems and will exploit it.
Thumbnail: MTG illustration
EUMETSAT – MTG Website - Telespazio Space Centres
Telespazio VEGA Locations: Darmstadt - Ground Segment
Involvement at EUMETSAT – Sentinel-3
Involvement at EUMETSAT - EPS Second Generation
| December 2015 |
3000€ Donation made through the ‘Space for Refugees’ Charity Event
On 26 November 2015, the Space industry of Darmstadt came together in the 4 Cani restaurant for the Charity event ‘Space for Refugees’. With more than 60 people participating, a total of 3000,-€ was raised and will be donated to the City of Darmstadt to support the refugees who recently arrived in Darmstadt.
763,78€ was raised from cash donations made by the participants. A little taboo word game was used as a means to encourage the participants to donate; the words all related to work in the space industry. The cash donations have been handed over to Ms. Akdeniz, the City Counsellor of Darmstadt, on 30 November 2015.
In addition, 121€ was donated by the participants by adding 1€ to each drink that the participants ordered. The 4 Cani donated 1€ for each meal that was ordered and came up with 71€. The 4 Cani will round this up and transfer 200,-€ to the City of Darmstadt.
Telespazio VEGA, as the third supporter of the event, had announced to double these amounts and will add a small extra on top (2036,22€) to finish with a round total donation.
The City of Darmstadt will therefore receive a total of 3000,-€.
About the supporters of the charity event
The Better World Club is a club for ESOC and EUMETSAT employees and their partners. It aims to provide support to the communities around us and beyond, through people, animal and nature related activities, and by raising environmental and social awareness.
The 4 Cani is a relatively new Italian restaurant located in the Fürstenbahnhof at Darmstadt Main Station. It is part of a franchise company that has restaurants also in Cologne and Düsseldorf. 4 Cani kindly hosted this event without raising any fees.
More than 1000 people work in Darmstadt’s Space Industry, be it at the European Space Operations Centre, EUMETSAT or any of the commercial Space Companies.
Telespazio VEGA is also present with offices at other known German aerospace clusters, such as in Gilching, close to the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC/ DLR). The town of Gilching has recently welcomed over 700 refugees who will also receive a donation from Telespazio VEGA.
4 Cani website
Better World Club website
Darmstadt bleibt weltoffen
| November 2015 |
LISA Pathfinder Simulator to get Einstein excited
On 2 December 2015, the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is planned to be launched from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana. The target of the ESA mission is to test technology to detect gravitational waves in space.
Gravitational waves have been first described by Albert Einstein as ‘dents’ in spacetime. But how do you detect something that you haven’t observed before? Our Telespazio VEGA colleague, Eduard Baumstark, is the project manager of the LISA Pathfinder simulator team and has an answer to that.
“We are quite used to develop spacecraft simulators, especially for deep space or exploration missions. But LISA is different from previous simulators. We were asked to provide an operational simulator but also a science extension to the Science and Technology Operations Centre (STOC), so that the scientists can test their experiments before the launch of the spacecraft. For example, they provided us with models of the physical forces acting upon the experiment’s test masses. When the scientists run a simulation, they cannot only create and send commands but they also receive telemetry back from the experiment. The simulated experiment of course. Once the spacecraft is in its right orbit, commissioned and ready for operations, the community will receive the real telemetry from the experiment and check it against the test data, based on the physical assumptions they had before. So in some way, we are walking on Einstein’s path these days by simulating his assumptions.”
This explains why the LISA Pathfinder simulator as a whole needs to be even more precise and comprehensive than previous or ‘regular’ satellite simulators. “You need to dive deep into understanding what the spacecraft does in terms of physics in order to simulate the data precisely,” adds Eduard. “It was very exciting for us as a team to learn these details and requirements. And the collaboration with STOC was great. They gave us very good feedback on how we can improve the simulator.”
Check out some insights into the Simulator Science Extension
Simulator developed – and what’s next?
In the meanwhile, the operational simulator has been used at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt to train the Flight Control Team (FCT). Telespazio VEGA colleague Joe Bush, trained the FCT for the first critical phase: almost two weeks of Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP). The team had to go through 32 Simulation sessions for this!
Federico Cordero, one of the AOCS Engineers at ESOC and our Telespazio VEGA colleague, explains why these sessions were stressful: “LISA will be released in an orbit which is not yet the operational orbit. LISA needs to reach the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point, L1. In order to do this, we will need to perform six manoeuvres during LEOP and all of them will take place while we don’t have visibility with the spacecraft. Of course, that makes us sweat a little more than normally.”
Our colleague David Patterson, a System Operations Engineer on LISA Pathfinder, confirms that it’s not going to be easy. “During the simulations, Joe inserted AOCS failures in almost half of the sessions, just so that we get used to the stress and learn how to deal with the issues that we might confront. It’s going to be tough. We cannot make any mistakes; otherwise we’ll never reach L1.”
Another challenge comes with the different propulsion systems of the satellite. Sabine Kielbassa, one of our colleagues and member of the Flight Dynamics Team, confirms that this is an extra bit of work: “LISA Pathfinder has one dedicated chemical propulsion system that will bring it from its release orbit into the target orbit. Later, once arrived, we will have to use the micro propulsion cold gas system. And for each we have to work with dedicated on-board software algorithms”.
LISA Pathfinder may be a small mission whose purpose is to ‘only’ test technology. But getting there alone seems to be as complicated and challenging as higher physics. Let’s say thank you to Mr. Einstein and let’s share his excitement about gravity.
About LISA Pathfinder
LISA Pathfinder is an ESA mission that will test a new way of gravitational wave detection. It will put two test masses in a near-perfect gravitational free-fall, and control and measure their motion with unprecedented accuracy. To do this, it will use inertial sensors, a laser metrology system, a drag-free control system and an ultra-precise micro-propulsion system.
Thumbnail: Artist's impression of LPF - Copyright ESA
STOC and LISA Pathfinder - LISA Pathfinder (ESA) - Telespazio Group and LISA Pathfinder
Simulation in Telespazio VEGA - ExoMars Simulator - The Rosetta time warp
| October 2015 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland wins Copernicus Frame Contract
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been awarded a 5-year frame contract by the European Space Agency and the European Commission to provide a range of services at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt, Germany to support the Copernicus programme.
Unique consortium – Maximum variety
Telespazio VEGA is the prime contractor leading a consortium comprising of Rhea, Solenix, CGI, Thorn and Serco. This consortium is able to deliver services to all three domains of the Copernicus frame contract, namely Operations Engineering (OE), Data Systems (DS) and Astrodynamics (AD). This broad range or expertise will enable the consortium partners to deliver all required services, such as:
- Payload Operations Engineering (SAR, OCP, MSI , Spectrometer)
- Platform Operations Engineering (AOCS, Data Handling, OBS, Power & Thermal, S & X-Band Communications)
- Quality & Product Assurance
- Ground Segment Operational Validation & Engineering
- Flight Dynamics (Orbit Determination & Control, AOCS Monitoring & Command generation)
- Mission Control System Operations
- Simulator Operations
Under this Frame Contract, the consortium will be supporting the pre-operational activities and the full operations of the Copernicus Satellites, namely Sentinel 1A/1B, 2A/2B and 5P as well as pre-operational activities and the LEOP, Commissioning and Operational Back-up facility support for Sentinel 3A/3B and Sentinel 6.
Copernicus is growing
The frame contract started in September 2015 and will initially run for 5-years. During that time, request for proposals are expected to be issued on a 6-month basis to gradually build up the level of services provided. At its peak, all three domain services should be delivered by up to 60 individual contractors across all consortia that have been chosen.
Looking into the future
This contract is key to Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. Yves Constantin, Chief Operations Officer stated: “The contract is further proof of our value to ESOC, demonstrating our ability to deliver services across multiple domains. With the C and D satellites of the Sentinel 1, 2 and 3 series already approved for procurement, we fully expect our engagement in the Copernicus programme to cover 10 years or more.”
About the Copernicus Programme
Copernicus is an ambitious Earth observation programme headed by the European Commission and partnered by the European Space Agency (ESA) and European Environment Agency (EEA). It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
Within Copernicus, ESA is developing five new missions called Sentinels. Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites to fulfil revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus Services.
Telespazio and Sentinels
Sister company: GAF AG named “Earth Observation Company of the Year"
Sentinel-2A – A very special mission
Further involvement in Sentinel-3 mission secured
About Heroes and Sentinels
ESA Copernicus Website
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC)
Thumbnail: Sentinel-2 illustration - (C) ESA / ATG medialab
| July 2015 |
Relax! It’s only the launch of MSG-4!
“I would be a bad ICT engineer if I were super busy shortly before a launch.”
Filip Marinic, ICT Engineering Service Delivery Manager at ESOC
We spoke to our Telespazio VEGA colleague Filip to learn why he is probably the most relaxed engineer before a launch. The next launch that he is already involved in, is scheduled for 15 July 2015 and will carry the fourth and final satellite in the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-4). MSG is a series of geostationary weather satellites.
Filip and his ICT colleagues work at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and will support the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) before the satellite gets handed over for routine operations to EUMETSAT. The Telespazio VEGA ICT Engineering team is part of ESOC’s Mission Operations IT and OCC (Operations Control) Infrastructure Section, with dedicated responsibilities.
Preparing for the launch - Filip and the ICT Team at ESOC - Photo: Telespazio VEGA / Jürgen Mai
ICT is everywhere
“So what is it exactly that you do”, we ask Filip.
“Technically we have two major areas that we take care of,” Filip explains. “On one side, we have the Communication Networks, where we address all mission needs for data and voice communication between all the ground segments: the Mission Control Centre, various Ground Stations, Partners and Industry support. Our network designs ensure that the communication is stable, has enough capacity, enough redundancy and availability, and that all the important data is given priority for transmission.
The other major area is the Computer Systems: the servers and clients that host all mission critical applications and data here at ESOC. We must carefully size these computers and tailor their operating systems to ensure the best performance and long term stability. Some of them run for decades.
My involvement in MSG-4 is in the Communication Networks area, and the reason why its launch is a relaxed period, is because most of our work has ended well before the launch. There are years of designing, testing, improving, analysing risks and trying to foresee the worst before each mission is ready to fly. I would be a bad engineer if I were super busy shortly before a launch.”
The network on ground
“There is of course a change in communication during a launch,” Filip continues. “The satellite is still on ground; but the Flight Control Team needs to “listen” to the satellite and know that it is working ok until launch. Once in space, it will use its radio transmitter to wirelessly communicate with the ground; but until then we need to use special Earth-based systems to retrieve telemetry.”
This special system is called Network Data Interface Unit (NDIU) which is a portable ground station model that is connected to the satellite until the very last minute before the launch. With the communications aspects under the ICT team’s responsibility, the NDIU ensures that the radio signals from the satellite are converted into traffic that can be sent via Earth-based systems, for example as regular digital internet traffic. These data are then distributed to the control team and the principal manufactures who look after the satellite.
Preparing the teams
“Of course, we also have to communicate ourselves; it is not only about technology but also about people,” tells us Filip. “For example, the availability of the support personnel needs to be coordinated, service providers must be informed to refrain from maintenance, various in-house IT equipment needs to be located by the ICT teams, external support contracts are enhanced for the critical IT equipment; all in all, there is a lot of communication going on. ”
Ready for anything that can happen - Photo: Telespazio VEGA / Jürgen Mai
IT Support Readiness
“And when does it get exciting?”, we want to know.
“Only if something goes wrong that we could not have foreseen. Even if you have informed everybody about the procedure, done a dress rehearsal – also with possible failures – and made sure we have extra security and backups, it can always happen that some construction works cut the communication cables in front of your building. Or that a group of delegates at the launch site start calling their families at home, all at the same time, and overload the local ISDN infrastructure you use for NDIU communication.
But we have procedures how to react to this, backup plans and a good team. We prepare months ahead for a launch. The only difference is the extra bit of management of additional resources and longer shifts during the LEOP. But all in all, we are a pretty relaxed team.”
Preparation and training is the key
Not only good ICT Engineering is key to the success of a mission. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the MSG missions for many years, among others through the development of the operational simulator, with expert staff in the EUMETSAT Flight Control Team and has trained the ESOC MSG-4 Flight Control Team for the LEOP and prepared them for nominal and contingency scenarios.
Thumbnail: Copyright EUMETSAT
Watch the MSG-4 Launch live (EUMETSAT) - MSG Overview (ESA)
IT-Buch Deutschland - ICT Management Services - Satellite Operations - Training - Simulations
| June 2015 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland reconfirmed as prime for phase C/D of the European Ground Systems Infrastructure Programme
Press release - Noordwijk, 22 June 2015
- Phase C/D of the European Ground Systems Infrastructure programme (EGS-CC) worth € 18.5 Million
- Official Contract Signature for stage two of Phase C/D to take place on 22 June 2015 at ESTEC
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a Finmeccanica/Thales company), has been awarded the contract to continue the development of the European Ground Systems – Common Core (EGS-CC). This contract reconfirms the company as prime contractor, having been selected to lead the initial stage in December 2014.
The full value of Phase C/D of the programme, awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA), is € 18.5 Million. The contract will be carried out by a consortium of 19 companies from ten European countries, under the leadership of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has already led phase B of the programme. Within phase B, the software requirements engineering and architectural design were completed. Within phase C/D, the future uniform monitoring & control infrastructure, covering all mission types and mission phases, will be developed and integrated.
A common infrastructure for monitoring and control systems brings numerous benefits. In the future, thanks to the EGS-CC framework, synergies between mission phases can be maximised, industry will be able to standardise their approaches, and development times will reduce. The common and stable infrastructure provided will be easily tailored to specific missions, sharing the sustainment and maintenance across organisations. The logical consequences are reduced costs and lower risks for all stakeholders – and eventually increased return on investment for all the ESA member states contributing to the European space programmes.
EGS-CC is a European collaborative initiative between ESA, National Agencies and Large System Integrators. The goal of EGS-CC is to provide a common infrastructure for all European stakeholders to support space systems monitoring and control for pre- and post-launch phases for all mission types.
PressRelase_EGS-CC Phase CD_EN_2015-06-22.pdf
Franco Ongaro, Head of ESTEC and Director of Technical and Quality management (D/TEC) (left) and Sigmar Keller, CEO of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland (right) are signing the EGS-CC Phase C/D contract. - Copyright ESA - Anneke Le Floc'h
Press release, 17 December 2014 - Telespazio VEGA Deutschland leads the next phase of harmonising European Ground Systems Infrastructure
Press release, 5 July 2013 - Telespazio VEGA Deutschland supports harmonisation of European Space Mission Infrastructure
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and EGS-CC
| June 2015 |
Sentinel-2A - A very special mission
Only a few hours before the scheduled launch of the Sentinel-2A Satellite, the pressure is increasing for the Flight Control Team. We have met two of our colleagues at the European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt who actually had the time between one simulation and one system validation test to learn a bit more about this particular mission.
Our colleagues Salvatore Nocella, responsible for TT&C, the On-board computer and Michael Linke, responsible for the MSI Instrument and Power, have a lot of respect for this mission: After all, there are end users waiting for the first data; data that can be critical for emergency management, for security tasks and land monitoring.
Different mission – different pressure
“It is definitely a bit different from the other, scientific missions you usually encounter here,” tells us Salvatore. “We have to deliver the first data five days after launch, out of three are the LEOP. In the later phase we will have only two passes per day. If anything goes wrong, we don’t have many slots to intervene.”
This is also why the Flight Control Team has been training various scenarios of nominal and contingency situations ever since January this year, led by two experienced Simulation Officers in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. There are several of these training sessions that Michael remembers well:
“Of course, we trained for the scenario that was the real case for Sentinel-1A. The satellite is released in a too low orbit and has to fly a collision avoidance manoeuvre during LEOP. But it would be too easy if they simply repeated that: Normally, the Simulation officers add some creative or stressful element to it, for example they fail your console or an instrument on board the satellite at the same time. At one occasion they decided that the Satellite Operations Manager, the SOM, was “sick” and I had to jump in and take over both the SOM’s tasks as well as look after my subsystems. But that was pretty cool,” finishes Michael.
So technically, even if anything goes wrong, you are well prepared for any scenario, we ask.
“For me it is pretty normal business,” tells us Salvatore. “It is my 9th launch anyway and we are well trained to make good team decisions.”
Sentinel 2 Toolbox – The End-User’s view on Earth
At the same time, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is contributing from the technology side to ensure the end-users of the data receive useful information from the satellite and is contributing to the Sentinel-2 Toolbox: This Toolbox consists of a set of visualisation, analysis and processing tools for the exploitation of Multispectral Instrument (MSI) data.
“Normally, users receive only Top-of-atmosphere Level 1C input data from the satellite. But these data still have to be corrected depending on how you need to use the data,” tells us Uwe-Müller Wilm, responsible for the development of the Sen2Cor processor plugin for the Toolbox. “With Sen2Cor for example, you can add further corrections in terms of atmosphere, cirrus or terrain. And the great thing is: you can simply install it on your local computer and use the plugins, tools or corrections that you need for your end-user area, for example agriculture."
At the moment, Uwe is already a step ahead: In the next release of the Toolbox he plans to add also the Sen2Three plugin which enables users to remove clouds from satellite images and presenting a seamless overlap image of a particular region without clouds.
Sentinel-2 is a twin satellite mission which is part of the Copernicus programme. Sentinel-2 observation data will be utilised by services such as land monitoring, emergency management and security.
The Sentinel-2A launch is scheduled for 23 June 2015, 3:00 CEST from Kourou, French Guyana. The Sentinel-2A satellite will be operated from the European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, under the leadership of an ESA SOM, Franco Marchese.
About Sentinel and the bigger picture: Copernicus
Copernicus is an ambitious Earth observation programme headed by the European Commission and partnered by the European Space Agency (ESA) and European
Environment Agency (EEA). It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
Within Copernicus, ESA is developing five new missions called Sentinels. Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites to fulfil revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus Services.
Thumbnail: ESA / ATG medialb
Sentinel-2A Livestream from the Launch Site - Sentinel-2 Toolbox - Sentinel-2 for Science Workshop 2014 - Sen2Cor Presentation (Sentinel-2 for Science Workshop) - Telespazio and the Sentinels -Copernicus Website
Recent web stories and further information
Further involvement in Sentinel-3 mission secured
About Heroes and Sentinels
Satellite Operations - Ground Segment
| June 2015 |
European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) 2015
Once again, the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) 2015 is looking for participants with innovative ideas on the topic of applications in the satellite navigation domain, for example services, products or business models that rely on satellite navigation every day.
Applications can be submitted by 30 June 2015 the latest.
The Regional challenges
The regional challenges are open to all regional participants with innovative ideas: Companies, entrepreneurs, scientific institutions, universities or private individuals. More than 20 partners worldwide are committed to organise regional competitions and prizes. Those are the regional competitions in Germany:
Hessen – The regional winner will receive a cash prize worth 3.000 EUR (provided by Hessen-IT) and support to apply for ESA business incubation. Applications should be submitted via www.hesse.esnc.eu.
Hessen Flyer >>>
Bavaria – The regional winner will receive an incubation package worth 25.000 EUR, sponsored by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs at Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO). Applications to be submitted via www.bavaria.esnc.eu
Baden-Württemberg – The regional winner will be awarded a 1.000 EUR cash prize by the Ministry of Finance and Economics of Baden-Württemberg and receive a broad range of resources support to kick their new business off the ground. Applications to be submitted via www.bw.esnc.eu.
Submitted ideas on application innovations may involve Galileo but also current satellite navigation systems such as GPS, GLONASS and EGNOS.
An international panel of high-ranking jury members will decide on regional, special prize and the overall winner. The latter will be awarded a cash prize worth 20.000 EUR.
Other prizes include next to cash prizes, business incubation support, consulting, IPR consulting, technical support, access to test facilities, prototype development, advertising, marketing support and much more.
European Satellite Navigation Competition - cesah - Global Navigation Meets Geoinformation Photo Gallery
| May 2015 |
Porsche Guests online via Satellite at “6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps” race
Watching a long-distance motor car race isn’t enough these days – today, sharing the experience is equally important. At the last race, the 6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps, which is part of the series within the FIA World Endurance Championship, Porsche offered its Guests in the Paddock a new way to access the internet: via satellite.
The access via satellite comes with many benefits compared to the commonly used point-to-point radio or terrestrial cable access, which is normally provided at race tracks. Existing solutions are not as reliable as satellite connections, and in addition have to be shared with all other race teams onsite.
For the Porsche Hospitality, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland provided an exclusive, secure and encrypted connectivity solution during the training and qualification period, and of course during the race that took place on 2 May 2015. It took less than one hour to set up, after which users could start surfing immediately. The bi-directional internet solution was adapted to the needs of Porsche for this event: With a download speed of 20 Mb/s and upload rates of 5 Mb/s, the users could surf the internet, stay connected and share their experience without any connectivity loss.
Thanks to the great collaboration with Porsche and the event organiser WWP Group, the event was made a success for all involved partners. Browse through our picture library to see for yourself what the solution looked like. You might also spot our company mascot Telespatz.
FIA WEC Website - Porsche at FIA WEC at Spa-Francorchamps - WWP Group
Satellite Communication solutions - Network & Connectivity in Telespazio
| April 2015 |
Telespazio VEGA to strengthen local profile in Hessen
The city of Darmstadt is sharpening its profile as Engineering City within a highly productive and evolving region. In the latest IHK-Report, a monthly magazine published by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Darmstadt, several representatives from the Engineering Region were interviewed for this purpose to explore what can be done even better. Among them: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland Managing Director John Lewis. The full magazine can be downloaded from the IHK Darmstadt website (please note that the pdf can take some time to load).
The Hessian Ministry for Economics, Energy, Transportation and Development has also taken action on this positive regional development: For the first time, the ministry has published a dedicated market and industry study on the Aerospace Industry in Hessen, where Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is strongly represented. Among the prominent names in the publication is also cesah, the Centre for Satellite Navigation in Hessen, ESA’s Business Incubation Centre in Hessen. The full brochure can be downloaded from the Website of the Hessen Agentur.
Cesah is also known for its regular event “Global Navigation Meets Geoinformation”, held at the European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, with the next edition on 23 April 2015.
IHK Darmstadt Website - Engineering Region
Telespazio VEGA as shareholder of cesah
| March 2015 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland to develop Aircraft Systems Trainer for MRH90 Helicopter
Press release - Darmstadt, 23 March 2015
- Successful continuation of the NH90 Virtual Maintenance Trainer product line
- Software and Hardware solution to be developed and delivered
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (A Finmeccanica/Thales company), has been awarded a contract by the Airbus Group Australia Pacific to develop the Aircraft Systems Trainer (AST) for the MRH90 transport helicopter. It will be used by the Rotary Wing Aircraft Maintenance School (RAMS) of the Australian Army in Oakey, Queensland, Australia.
The development, in close collaboration with Airbus Group Australia Pacific, has started in January 2015 and will continue for 20 months. The delivery will include both a hardware and software solution for the purpose of Maintenance Technician Training.
The software solution of the AST will consist of a virtual training environment, ready to use on PCs. It will include a realistic 3D model of the helicopter that allows navigating both outside the helicopter and within the cockpit, the cabin, the engine deck and other equipment bays to perform maintenance tasks. Together with a comprehensive training plan, technicians will be trained to perform various maintenance and inspection procedures including disassembly and re-assembly, learn which diagnosis equipment to use and how to identify and correct malfunctions properly.
Within the hardware solution, two classrooms will be equipped for classroom training. One will include an instructor station and two student PCs as well as a replicated cockpit that is directly linked to the AST simulation software. The second classroom will allow up to eight students to train on multi-monitor workstations, guided by an instructor through an instructor workstation.
The Australian MRH90 helicopter is similar to the European version, known as NH90 TTH. Within its NH90 training product line, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has previously developed a Virtual Maintenance Trainer (VMT) which is being used by the Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and French Armed Forces. The MRH90 AST confirms the confidence that customers have been placing in Telespazio VEGA’s simulation-based training solutions for 20 years.
PressRelease_MRH90 AST 2015-03-03 EN.pdf
Tel +49 (0)6151 8257-764
Available on request.
| March 2015 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland at CeBIT 2015: New SatCom solutions for Vodafone clients
Press release - Darmstadt, 12 March 2015
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a Finmeccanica/Thales company) has been invited by Vodafone Deutschland to exhibit on the Vodafone partner stand at CeBIT 2015 to present our satellite communications solutions.
Satellite communication is already a common solution to be connected anywhere in the world. At CeBIT, visitors to the Vodafone partner stand will be presented with three new Satellite Communications solutions from Telespazio VEGA, that can be seamlessly combined with existing cable and mobile communication solutions:
- NetitUp – The NetitUp is a complete package that was designed especially for enterprise clients that work or are based in areas that are poorly connected or not covered at all. NetitUp provides a primary solution for the customer’s complete data and voice communication - it closes communication coverage gaps worldwide.
- BackitUp – BackitUp follows a trend of business continuity – which is on the principal agenda for many companies. Satellite technology currently represents the only true secondary path for backup while meeting the highest security requirements.
- MoveitUp – MoveitUp is aimed at enterprise clients that need or want to be reachable on the road; be it through classic satellite telephony or the conversion of vehicles for mobile network access.
With the presence at CeBIT, Telespazio positions itself as partner to Vodafone. In addition to this, Sigmar Keller, Managing Director of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, presented very special objectives for this event:
„There are still many companies that are not aware that satellite communication exists as a solution for their business. Furthermore, there are also those who have reservations about the technology; reservations which date from the last millennium. We want to change this. Vodafone is giving us the opportunity to show that SatCom, as a solution for business continuity and company communication, is absolutely affordable, secure and comes with one of the best availabilities on the planet.”
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and Vodafone Deutschland have already a common project to show: A medium-sized industry client from Vodafone had difficulty connecting all its distributed sites across country borders at the same quality. These white spots of undersupplied areas were removed through the NetitUp solution.
The Vodafone partner stand at CeBIT is located in hall 13, stand B76. CeBIT runs from 16-20 March 2015 in Hannover, Germany and is the world’s largest IT & Digital Business exhibition.
Business Unit – Network & Connectivity in Germany
Business Unit – Network & Connectivity in the Telespazio Group
Telespazio VEGA at CeBIT - Event announcement
Tel: + 49 (0)6151 8257 764
| January 2015 |
Annual Review: Majority of mobile bank branches without reliable internet access
Press release - Darmstadt - 29 January 2015
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (A Finmeccanica/Thales company), is looking back at its first business year in satellite communication. The result: Approximately 85% of mobile bank branches in Germany cannot rely upon the availability of their internet connection. They mostly use the mobile network which, in rural areas, often drops out or is overloaded.
Without internet a mobile bank branch is useless – this is the tenor of an internal analysis and customer statements collected by Telespazio VEGA. When the mobile network is not available bank clients can neither retrieve money, nor bank statements nor perform any other banking transaction. And even if the mobile network works, the mobile branch needs to share the band width with all local users of the mobile network. Transactions and information requests are delayed, customers wait.
Same old, same old - or even older?
According to BASEL-II, mobile bank branches, which replace more and more local branches, need to meet the highest technical network availability. Clients expect from a mobile branch to receive the same service as in a regular branch office. The analysis conducted by Telespazio VEGA confirms that a majority of bank clients in rural areas mostly do not receive this quality of service. The highest technical standard is not used.
Satellite communication as enabler
In the course of the past year Telespazio VEGA has recognized this defect. 15% of all mobile bank branches in Germany are already using satellite communication technology today to have a stable internet connection. Half of them use the company’s solution. This makes Telespazio VEGA the current leader in bringing mobile bank branches online within a very short time. For 2015, the company is planning to increase the percentage of mobile bank branches, which use satellite communication for their online connection, to 25%.
Press release 29-01-2015 Mobile Bank Branches
Photos are available on request. Please get in touch with the press office.
| January 2015 |
Further involvement in Sentinel-3 mission secured
EUMETSAT has awarded Telespazio VEGA Deutschland a 4-year frame contract to provide on-site engineering and scientific consultancy services for Sentinel-3 routine operations. Between 2015 and 2018, the company will be admitted to provide experts on-site in the areas of Operations Engineering, Remote Sensing Science, Ground Segment Engineering and Ground Segment Maintenance.
Ever since EUMETSAT was founded, Telespazio VEGA has been a major provider of on-site engineering and scientific consultancy expertise. The company’s experience and expertise is being applied in many other programs at EUMETSAT.
Sentinels – A story of people and high-technology
The Sentinel missions, which are the building blocks of the Copernicus programme (see below), are not new to Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.
The company’s involvement reaches from supporting Sentinel 1A, 2A and 3A LEOP and Commissioning Operations at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and continues with the provision of Systems Operations Services (Controllers Team) for Sentinel-3 Operations Preparation at EUMETSAT.
Telespazio VEGA is also responsible for the development and integration of the Sentinel-3 Core Payload Data Ground Segment (PDGS), as well as for the development and maintenance of the monitoring and control component of Sentinel-1 PDGS, and of processor prototypes for the Sentinel-2 multispectral imager.
About the Sentinels and Copernicus
Copernicus is a European system for monitoring the Earth. It consists of systems which collect data from multiple sources. The Copernicus programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. EUMETSAT has been entrusted for the operations of sentinels and delivery of data services to the macc (monitoring atmospheric composition and climate) and the climate change services. Copernicus aims to provide timely, accurate and easily accessible information about the Earth’s environment. This information will help to understand and manage effects of climate change and improve civil security.
The Sentinels are a set of satellites and instruments within the Copernicus programme. Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 are a family of missions composed of two satellites each, to enable higher revisit and coverage rates and to provide more robust data within the Copernicus Services. Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 however are instruments to be embarked on EUMETSAT missions (MTG und MetOP-SG). Sentinel-5p is a single-satellite mission to be embarked on MTG and will be, at the same time the precursor of the Sentinel-5 instrument. The Jason-CS satellite will carry the Sentinel-6 instrument.
Thumbnail: Sentinel-3 satellite - Copyright ESA J. Huart 2008
Telespazio and Sentinels – EUMETSAT Sentinel-3 – ESA Copernicus
About Heroes and Sentinels – Ground Segment – Satellite Operations – Sites: Darmstadt
| December 2014 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland leads the next phase of harmonising European Ground Systems Infrastructure
Press release - Darmstadt, 17 December 2014
- Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) and will lead a consortium of 20 companies
- The uniform monitoring and control infrastructure will cover all mission types and mission phases
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a Finmeccanica/Thales company), has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead the initial stage of phase C/D of the European Ground Systems/Common Core programme (EGS-CC). Within phase C/D, the future uniform monitoring & control infrastructure, covering all mission types and mission phases, will be developed and integrated.
The contract will be carried out by a consortium under the leadership of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. The consortium consists of 20 companies from ten European countries; Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, France, United Kingdom, Romania, Austria and The Netherlands. EGS-CC Phase C/D is planned to be completed by the end of 2017.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has already led phase B of the programme. Within phase B, the software requirements engineering and architectural design were completed.
A common infrastructure for monitoring and control systems brings numerous benefits. In the future, thanks to the EGS-CC framework, synergies between mission phases can be maximised, industry will be able to standardise their approaches, and development times will reduce. The common and stable infrastructure provided will be easily tailored to specific missions, sharing the sustainment and maintenance across organisations. The logical consequences are reduced costs and lower risks for all stakeholders – andeventually increased return on investment for all the ESA member states contributing to the European space programmes.
EGS-CC is a European collaborative initiative between ESA, National Agencies and Large SystemIntegrators. The goal of EGS-CC is to provide a common infrastructure for all European stakeholders tosupport space systems monitoring and control for pre- and post-launch phases for all mission types.
EGS-CC Phase CD_2014 (ID 38) EN.pdf
Involvement in EGS-CC Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Press release: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland leads Phase B of EGS-CC
| December 2014 |
DIDIT - Space Knowhow for the protection against drones
The public is becoming more and more aware of drone usage for commercial or military use. Any private individual can nowadays purchase small, commercial of-the-shelf systems and form a potential threat for the public, law enforcement and private businesses.
These drones, in professional language known as UAVs/UAS or Remote Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) may not only be used for harmless purposes – but as well malignantly for anything from weapon delivery, smuggle, espionage and even as a means to carry out terrorist attacks. Although there are traditional systems in place to deal with threat scenarios, they are not effective enough to handle small RPAS.
The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice has therefore commissioned thirteen companies to carry out feasibility studies on innovative solutions how to best detect, identify, track and neutralise malignant RPAS activity.
Out of forty proposals, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland was selected as one of the thirteen companies and, in addition, the only non-Dutch company, to research a solution aimed at detection, identification and tracking of RPAS threats. The feasibility study runs under the name of DIDIT, short for Distributed Detection, Identification and Tracking.
By March 2015, Telespazio VEGA will not only deliver the results of the study but also a proof-of-concept demonstrator of the system. For the development of DIDIT Telespazio VEGA Deutschland will make use of a number of proven space technologies deriving from its core business in space including knowledge of networked ground stations, satellite navigation and satellite communication.
The steps to security
At the end of the study, Telespazio VEGA will be able to present an effective means of protection against RPAS threats that can be applied by any organisation to protect a dedicated ‘safe-zone’. In a first step, a network of intelligent sensors that cover this safe-zone will be set up. The network which is aimed to be quickly deployable will collect audio, visual and electromagnetic signatures from flying objects within the zone.
Through the DIDIT system, it will be possible to detect any RPAS activity in that area. At the same time, DIDIT will make it possible to automatically distinguish RPAS activity from other activities such as flying birds.
In a second step, upon the detection of RPAS activity DIDIT will support the operator in the identification of the RPAS threat – Who is controlling it? Does it have a payload? What is its intent? – as well as in the prediction and calculation of its position and movement within the safe zone – all this within seconds.
Towards a prototype
By May 2015, The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice will award three of the thirteen companies to build a prototype.
“There are many good ideas on how to develop a DIDIT system,” tells us Sebastiaan de Stigter, responsible for Aerospace Application Business Development in Telespazio VEGA. “We are confident that our solution and concept demonstrator, based on the combination of various proven space technologies, will stand out and enable us to continue with the development of full prototype. This prototype will then finally form an effective solution for dealing with RPAS threats.”
The project is commissioned through the innovation programme SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research ) “Bescherming tegen onbemande mobiele systemen” by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice.
Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice - SBIR
Aviation Systems & Services – GNSS Infrastructure & Services – Satellite Communication
| December 2014 |
Christmas Donations to the Food Banks
As every year around Christmas, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland takes action and donates to charity. The decision was again made for the two food banks, based in the same towns as the office sites of Telespazio VEGA: Darmstadt and Gilching.
Each Food Bank has received 1000,-€ from Telespazio VEGA. Both the Chairman of the Darmstadt Food Bank Mr. Wentrup as well as Chairwoman from the Gilching Food Bank Mrs. Müller were very happy about the donation.
"We, as a charity organization, depend on donations and are particularly pleased when local companies recognize and encourage our volunteer work. Unfortunately, the number of people in need, who are supported by us, is still growing, so that we must increase our commitment and effort equally. Your donation helps continue our work in the usual form," wrote Mr. Wentrup, thanking the company for the donation.
Charity is supported by all of us
Contributing to a local organisation is very important to Managing Director Sigmar Keller. He considers it important that the employees can see for themselves that the help is appreciated.
Donating to local charity is not a once-per-year activity. The company organizes internal collections or raffles on a regular basis where all employees can participate and vote on which organisation to donate to.
Darmstadt Food Bank
Gilching Food Bank
| November 2014 |
Philae’s “little brother” going to an asteroid: MASCOT involvement
“15 years ago it would not have been possible to build MASCOT”
- Federico Cordero, Project Manager MASCOT On-Board Computer
When we meet Federico in an afternoon he doesn’t have much time for lunch. Time pressure is a significant factor that the Telespazio VEGA project team members have been faced with in the MASCOT mission. MASCOT, short for Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, is a DLR payload that will be launched on-board the Japanese Hayabusa2 (HY2) spacecraft (JAXA) on from Tanegashima Space Centre and will be controlled from DLR’s MASCOT control centre in Cologne. The launch, initially planned for 30 November 2014, had to be re-scheduled due to bad weather conditis and took place on 3 December 2014.
Three years ago, also Telespazio VEGA became involved in MASCOT. Through its experience in previous interplanetary missions such as Rosetta as well as on-board software, the company was selected to support the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) in a variety of mission phases.
While Philae was travelling technology moved on
On 12 November 2014, lander Philae of the ESA mission Rosetta has landed on a comet and Telespazio VEGA has also been heavily involved. However, although MASCOT can be considered Philae’s “little” brother, the two are not at all the same. Federico explains: “Philae was designed almost 15 years ago and launched 10 years ago. With MASCOT however, we started much later. In fact, take the on-board computer specifications for MASCOT: They are so strict that we could not have managed to build a similar unit 15 years ago. We did learn a lot from Philae, but technology moved so fast ever since that we had to start almost from scratch and complete it on a tight three year schedule.”
A light computer for the asteroid mission
In fact, Telespazio VEGA colleagues are nowadays spread across various company and client sites and mission phases. The team around Federico, based in Darmstadt at the Telespazio VEGA main office and at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), was responsible for one of the core elements of MASCOT: The central On-Board Computer (OBC).
“MASCOT needs to be very light and small, so that it can fit on Hayabusa2. In addition, its power consumption is to be kept to a minimum so that the mission goals can be fulfilled by the small primary batteries. At the same time, the hardware has to be reliable, tolerant to any single failure and performant, to ensure quick data processing of science data. The first task we were faced with was to translate the stringent system requirements into feasible specifications for the computer hardware inside the lander. For example its mass, dimensions, interfaces, redundancy, processing capacity and how robust it needs to be to any environmental influences during launch, the trip to the asteroid and landing.”
Of course, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is not a hardware provider and worked as part of a dedicated consortium set up by DLR for the hardware procurement. While procurement support is not new to the company, starting to work on an asteroid mission and beginning with the hardware was indeed a unique experience for the team!
On-board software for the “shoebox”
Although MASCOT is a very small payload that resembles the shape of a shoebox, the inside is like a Swiss watch, all almost impossibly packed, with four different instruments, a redundant architecture for the OBC, a transponder, a power control and distribution unit, batteries, a variety of sensors for attitude measurement and a mobility mechanism, allowing MASCOT to re-locate once on the asteroid, by jumping like a frog.
All this needs to be controlled by the OBC and the data processed, compressed, stored and transmitted to the mother spacecraft when visible. Mission autonomy is an important requirement as, once landed, MASCOT will be alone, with reduced or no commanding capability from the ground. Johan and José who worked with Federico on the on-board software were part of this challenge, to develop the on-board software fitting all the user requirements.
“This was the System Engineering part,” adds Johan. “We had to collect the user requirements from the DLR System and Operations teams, the scientists and the providers of all subsystems to ensure that the on-board software fits all their demands – which might interfere with one another.”
Today the on-board software is ready to use, though it is foreseen to improve and tune it for the final asteroid mission. This will be done during the cruise phase to the asteroid, which will be lasting less than 4 years.
A simulator that is more than a simulator
Only two years ago, another team member joined: Eduard Baumstark was to develop the Software development & validation facility (SDVF). The SVDF is a virtual model of the lander and includes the on-board computer and all MASCOT instruments, equipment models, systems, communication and data links.
“The SDVF was specifically designed to help my on-board software colleagues,” he tells us. “While MASCOT was being built, we needed to be able to test and validate that the OBC software under development by our team were working. With the SVDF we could replace the hardware elements that were not yet available with the simulation models, even the OBC itself! With dedicated hardware interface cards, the SDVF allowed later to run functional, performance and robustness tests with the OBC hardware-in-the-loop.”
But in the meanwhile, the SDVF developed into even more: The DLR AIV team in Bremen, integrating and testing the MASCOT lander could use it as an EGSE, short for Electrical Ground Support Equipment. This is thanks to the test scripting capabilities of the SDVF, its hardware interface cards and also to a Central Check System based on SCOS2000 (ESA Mission Control System Software).
“The EGSE is normally used for testing hardware subsystems while the SDVF was initially targeted at the on-board software development and validation only. But if it can be reused, why not?” says Eduard with a smile.
Walk on the asteroid
“The SDVF is planned to be used to simulate end-to-end ‘walking’ scenarios on the asteroid, providing sensor stimuli to the MASCOT flight spare model, which will be used as ground reference model in the near future,” adds Johan at the end. “But for me it has already been quite an end-to-end adventure. We started with a small piece of hardware, added the software. Once more and more elements were built around by the various parties it became a full picture of what we are actually involved in. What we contributed as individuals is a little bit like ‘walking’ on an asteroid!”
All the names of the contributors of the MASCOT mission, whether they are hardware or software engineers, have been engraved on a small plate that is attached to the lander. “That’s really end-to-end,” closes Federico before he rushes off to his next meeting.
MASCOT is a DLR payload on board the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft. It launched from Tanegashima Space Centre on 3 December 2014. The target of this mission is to land on the asteroid 1999 JU3 and perform in-situ measurements.
These will help to increase our knowledge about the formation of our solar system. It will take HY2 less than 4 years to reach the asteroid 1999 JU3. To save energy, MASCOT will be switched off most of the time, but activated at regular intervals by the team of the MASCOT control centre at DLR for checkout and calibration purposes.
Thumbnail: Copyright DLR
Watch Hayabusa2 Launch (JAXA) – DLR Space Blog – DLR MASCOT page
Simulation – On-board software – Sites: Cologne – Rosetta involvement - Rosetta and Philae photo gallery
| November 2014 |
Rosetta Mission: Telespazio’s role
Telespazio Press Note - Rome, 12 November 2014
Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales company, participates in the European Space Agency’s programme Rosetta through its subsidiary Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.
Telespazio has been involved in the Rosetta programme since the late 1990s, when the ESAESOC (European Space Operations Centre) began mission planning. The first agreement made was for the development of the simulator for the Rosetta orbiter, made along with the two simulators for the MarsExpress and VenusExpress missions. Since its delivery to the ESOC in Darmstadt, the simulator has been used to support control activities during the various phases of the mission: the first phase of launch and LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase), during flight, hibernation, to the approach and orbit around the comet. The simulation campaigns have been led by experts of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.
Telespazio experts are part of the ESOC Flight Control and Flight Dynamics teams, ICT Engineering, Ground Station as well as Administration teams and have supported all stages of Rosetta's journey and its approach to and orbiting around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has also developed the Rosetta Mission Control System and the Mission Planning System, which is used to schedule the many different tasks of the spacecraft coming from Flight Dynamics, the scientists and the Flight Control Team.
The most exciting moment of the whole mission will be the comet landing of the Philae lander. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the German Space Agency (DLR) in Cologne in various mission phases of Philae, such as in the project management, development, modelling and validation of the Philae simulator, in Ground Segment development, 3D animations of both orbiter and lander as well as Ground Control during the Philae commissioning phase. Today, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is providing the Technical Manager of the Philae mission to DLR, and is thus also contributing to the final act of this space adventure.
Rosetta is the name of the European Space Agency mission dedicated to the exploration of small bodies in our Solar System. It was launched on 2 March 2004 and during its long journey has successfully performed fly-bys of the Steins asteroid in 2008 and the Lutetia asteroid in 2010. Its primary objective is to carry out detailed investigations on the characteristics of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, orbit of which was achieved on 6 August 2014.The Rosetta probe is composed of an orbiter - where the sensors are located for remote sensing experiments - and a lander, called Philae, that on 12 November 2014 will land - for the first time in the history of space exploration - on the surface of the comet. Then it will carry out a series of measurements on the physical characteristics of the surface and investigate the internal structure of the core. The main scientific objective of the mission is to gain understanding of the origin of comets and the relationship between their composition and interstellar matter as fundamental elements for tracing the origins of the Solar System.
Rosetta is an ESA mission that has received help from EU member states and NASA. The Philae lander was developed by an international consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI. Italian industries involved in the project include the Finmeccanica Group companies Selex ES, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA
| November 2014 |
Fourteen years: Photo impressions of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in Rosetta
Ever since the end of the 90’s, when planning for the Rosetta mission started, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been heavily involved. Today, just a few days away from the landing of Philae on 67/P, we have made a quick survey in-house and found out that there are more than 45 of our colleagues that are involved in Rosetta right now or were formerly - at the European Space Operations Centre, at DLR and in the Telespazio VEGA main office in Darmstadt!
Click through the slideshow, read their stories with Rosetta and Philae and find our company mascot Telespatz on the pictures!
The Rosetta spacecraft, launched 10 years ago in 2004, is planned to despatch its robotic lander Philae on 12 November 2014 to land on its destination comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is the first time mankind will land on a comet and analyse its molecular composition that might provide more information about where the elements came from that are essential for life on Earth.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA - Carreau/ATG medialab
Follow #Telespatz on Twitter!
The comet is quacking! - An interview with Koen Geurts
The Rosetta Time warp
The Telespazio Group and Rosetta
Finmeccanica Magazine (page 44): Eyes on the comet
| October 2014 |
Push the button for free Wi-Fi
With great weather and 17.000 visitors the Open Day at the DLR premises in Oberpfaffenhofen can be considered a success – and also for Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. Thanks to the close relationship with one of the company’s key client, the visitors were also able to get a very practical insight into satellite telecommunication.
Touch it to understand it
Located outside the Galileo Control Centre, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland presented how satellite telecommunication works using its live demonstrator on its eye-catching satcom car. The benefit: free Wi-Fi. “Especially young visitors came to us with their smartphones and tablets. Many of them have limited internet volume and were grateful for some free internet. What they maybe didn’t expect was that our demonstrator Wi-Fi is linked to the internet via satellite,” explains Patrick Lewis, Telespazio VEGA expert on satellite telecommunication.
“You have to try it and touch it in order to understand it,” he continues. “There are many prejudices about satellite telecommunication: that is too expensive, too slow or simply doesn’t work; we were given a great opportunity to let the broad public experience that this is not the case.” One reason more to let the many visitors play with the demonstrator module: one button for launch, one for shut-down; the antenna finds the optimal pointing at the satellite itself.
How new is the future?
Although satellite telecommunication is still not very established in the public mind for every-day use, it is considered the technology of the future to largely replace or add significantly to existing, earth-bound solutions. A technology that doesn’t seem so new to some of the very young visitors at the demonstrator:
“There were some very young children demonstrating deep knowledge by asking very detailed questions on the technology used,” tells us Peter Braun, Sales Representative at Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. “A 12-year-old for example asked us how the data packs are transferred exactly and which protocols we are using. Satellite telecommunication is already considered normal in this age group. I think we are on the right way.”
DLR Photo Gallery Telespazio Network & Connectivity Telespazio and GalileoOur Network and Connectivity offering in Germany Live-demonstration: SatCom for the Sparkasse Finance GroupThe Open Day in Oberpfaffenhofen
| September 2014 |
Bundeswehr University Munich cooperates with Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
The students following classes in aerospace engineering at the Bundeswehr University Munich can look forward to a new feature of their curriculum: In a few months’ time, the Institute of Space Technology and Space Applications will be offering dedicated exercises in satellite operations. The technology used for the lessons, known as the Satellite Operations Training Centre (STC), will be delivered in October 2014 by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland . By then, the Bundeswehr University Munich is one of the very few, exclusive universities worldwide that teaches satellite operations. The classes are held in cooperation with the German Space Operations Center (GSOC, DLR), which now will be supplemented with additional exercises based on the STC as part of the Space Technology Pracital Course.
Satellite Operations Training often missed
Satellite Operations is rarely taught at universities in aerospace engineering. The reason for this lies in the history of the matter itself: It has evolved as part of mechanical engineering into a specific domain and relies until today on research, best practices and experiments. The operations guidelines for each spacecraft were mainly developed and taken care of by the satellite manufacturers – often individual for each mission.
However, as satellite operations become more and more complex, automation and optimisation become more important. Also, humans operating a spacecraft can be a risk to a mission. Universal satellite operations standards are a must, for example communication or best practices for Flight Control Team composition. An example are the standards set by the European Space Agency (ESA) or the German Space Operations Centre (DLR) as two of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland’s main customers – Standards that influence also non-institutional missions worldwide and are taught methodically at the Institute of Space Technology and Space Applications.
Education in the German Armed Forces
Prof. Förstner who has initiated the novelty at his institute is also looking forward to the first session: “Education and training are a key factor for the German Armed Forces to attract students at our university. With the STC, I believe, we are heading towards the right direction to offer our students the best and comprehensive curriculum in aerospace engineering and allow them to be well prepared for any career they might choose during and after their military service.”
A typical STC training set-up. Here the positions of the Spacecraft Controller (Spacon) and the Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) - Copyright Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
In October, the staff at Prof. Förstner’s institute will undergo a dedicated train-the-trainer programme which will allow them to operate the STC, understand the technical backgrounds of operations, guide and train students through sample scenarios of satellite operations and even create their own scenarios. The STC will be a permanent part of the curriculum as of the winter trimester 2015 for all students specialising in space technology.
About the STC
The STC used by Telespazio VEGA is based on a simulator which uses the same technology as the operational simulators used by the company’s customers. It also reflects all European operations standards in the space domain and therefore serves as a good training means to get involved in satellite operations.
University of the German Armed Forces in Munich – Institute of Space Technology and Space Applications
Simulation - Training - Ground Segment - The STC at Recruitment events
Please note: In a previous version of this article the Bundeswehr University Munich was wrongly translated into "University of the German Armed Forces". Also, the University will be offering exercises and not classes using the STC. We have corrected these two points and apologize for the inconvenience.
| September 2014 |
The comet is quacking! – An interview with Koen Geurts
Our colleague Koen Geurts is part of the Rosetta lander team at the German Space Agency (DLR) in Cologne. Although he is very busy working in the Philae control room, he found a few minutes for a short interview:
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has quite an unusual shape which resembles a rubber duck. Although you are already so close to the comet and don’t see the full comet on the photos anymore, do you still joke a little about it within your team? If so, what is the funniest comment, drawing or video you have seen/heard?
"Of course we also make jokes about it, we might be engineers, but we still have a sense of humour! The funniest thing that came across actually is an e-mail from our colleagues at Rosetta Mission Operations Centre (RMOC). The Lander has an instrument on board, SESAME, which is designed to “listen” to the comet seismic activity. Switching the instrument on now results in the registration of the spacecraft sounds due to the reaction wheels and gyros. The e-mail that was sent to us by our colleagues at RMOC had as subject “first sounds of comet 67P by SESAME”. Without thinking too much, I was a bit surprised that such an email came from RMOC and not from the SESAME team directly, but when opening the attached audio clip is was clear: the sound of comet 67P was the quacking of a duck!"
It seems somewhat unbelievable that we discover the shape of the comet so late, after 10 years travel. There are so many deep space telescopes being operated. How come they were not used to take a look at the target comet in advance – which is after all not incredibly far away, considering the distance these telescopes usually observe?
"The Earth based and space based telescopes that exist have in fact been used to observe the comet. First of all this is necessary to detect the comet and determine its precise orbit; this was done many years ago 1969. This also gave an indication on its approximate size. Once 67P was selected as the destination comet more observations were conducted, for example in order to determine its rotation period. Now that we can actually see the comet, the rotation period was adjusted by only 18 minutes, not bad. There was also a computer prediction of its shape, but as you all know by now, this was not so accurate. In comparison with observations of other object that these telescopes are typically used for, the distance of 67P with respect to Earth might not be too far in space terms, but keep in mind that the comet is also orders of magnitude smaller than the objects that are typically observed!"
How do you perceive the scientist community at the moment regarding the shape of the comet? Do you think – if they had had the information in advance – they would have preferred to land on a different target object? Why?
"On the contrary! There are currently many discussions ongoing on the possible origin of this particular comet shape. The general trend goes towards a so called contact binary, which means that at some point in time the two bodies collided and remained attached. This raises many interesting scientific questions, for example, if both bodies consist out of similar material, or if they possess different characteristics. The latter case would of course be a huge excitement, because it would almost be as if Rosetta visits two comets! So the excitement within the science community is very high about the peculiar comet shape. Beyond the true scientific advantages, in general this is an advantage for mission itself, as the news went around the world. What this particular shape means for Philae in terms of landing complications is what we are currently working on."
If you look back to last year while Rosetta was still in hibernation and compare it to today: what is the most important thing you have learned so far working with Philae or the overall mission?
"That even if sometimes it appears that one is looking too much into certain details or being too critical on certain topics, in time this usually pays off when something unexpectedly comes up and you have all the information you need already on the table."
Thumbnail: Philae Lander - Copyright DLR
Philae Commissioning - Philae Blog - Rosetta Blog - Rosetta mission (DLR) - Rosetta mission (ESA) - Systems Engineering – And in particular: Systems Engineering Services – The Rosetta Time warp
| August 2014 |
How many dogs can you walk at the same time – explained through constellation simulation
This summer is going to be an interesting one for Europe. As announced by ESA, two additional satellites of the future navigation system Galileo will be launched into space on 21August 2014. Together with the existing satellites already in orbit, they will be a constellation of six satellites to be operated – and simulated at the same time. Sounds easy? Ever tried to walk six dogs at the same time?
We have spoken to one of our experts on satellite constellations, Joachim Ochs, to learn more about the challenges that lie before us.
Joachim, can you tell us what the difference is between operating four different satellites as opposed to a constellation of four?
There are certain characteristics that make a difference between these two. First of all, four different may, as per definition, have four different targets. For example, one is an Earth Observation Satellite, another telecommunications satellite, a relays satellite or a deep space telescope. Different tasks mean different orbits, different software, and different commands. The missions are completely separate from each other – like four dogs with completely different character.
In a constellation however, all satellites have the same target. The mission can only be completed if all of them deliver data for one particular task, for example satellite navigation data. To make it easier to operate, all run on the same platform, have the same mission control system and react to the same commands in the same way. If one of these satellites has a malfunction, this affects the entire mission, the operation of all the other satellites, their orbits and so on.
And how difficult is it really to operate so many satellites at the same time in comparison with four single ones?
If you have four single satellites with different Mission Control Systems, this means that the commands and the telemetry are completely different. It takes quite a long time someone to understand all procedures related to one mission, all the possible commands and telemetry. Having to learn all this for four different missions is an immense challenge for one single person, for example.
However, if you receive telemetry from four satellites that share the same MCS, you need less time to train for the mission and less resources to operate the satellites. So, basically if you have four dogs that are the same dog breed, they will have certain characteristics in common that make it easier to lead them all at once. You could also say, the dogs are sharing the owner.
Different orbits, different positions, different manoevres, different visibilities - one platform and one MCS. - Visual Simulation by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
You know quite a lot about the development of constellation simulators. Does it also make a difference to simulate a constellation as opposed to a single satellite?
Oh yes, it does! Normally, when simulating one single satellite you don’t need to take into consideration the orbits of other satellites in space. In a constellation however, this is incredibly important. It adds a dimension to the simulator.
The main challenge however is the time correlation. A simulator has to perform the same task as a real satellite. In real life, for example, one satellite in the constellation performs a manoeuvre to get a better angle for its solar panels. In the simulator, this manoeuvre needs to be computed and takes more CPU because the calculations are quite complex. This can slow down the computer on which the simulation is running and suddenly the time in the simulation does not correspond to the time it should have.
What do you do to avoid this?
You make sure that each satellite runs on a separate machine and has each enough CPU to deal with sharp CPU usage increases. This way, at least, it does not interfere with the performance of the other simulated satellites – otherwise you would hit the maximum quickly. For example, one simulated satellite on one machine usually takes something up to 70% of CPU. When performing a complex manoeuvre it might be at 95%.
So, imagine that you have six satellites, let’s say in three different orbits, in six different positions. Each of them has a different pointing towards the sun. In addition they are receiving telemetry from different ground stations, downlinking data to different ground stations and performing independent manoeuvres. Should either of these satellites need more time for a computation, it will run slower than the rest. A central unit, the master PC, takes over the task synchronising the time on each machine. In this case, the “delayed” satellite would run a little faster to catch up with the real time.
What does it mean for operating the constellation when there are added two more satellites?
In short: less time per satellite. You see, in a constellation, the satellites are supposed to be equally distributed along their orbits. At one particular ground station you would have a particular time slot when they are visible. During this pass you can uplink and downlink information.
But if you have more satellites in orbit, they will still be equally distributed – however there will be more of them visible at the same time – thus leaving less time to work with one satellite. And this is exactly why sharing the same platform and Mission Control System is important: It makes operating the satellites easier, faster and you don’t need as many people to operate the constellation as opposed to operating many single satellites. The less people you have to train, the lower is the risk of knowledge gaps or human errors. However, constellations don’t solve every problem: you still need a team large enough to cope with contingencies - especially if you think of safety-critical navigation systems such as Galileo!
What does it mean for the simulator to add more satellites to the constellation? Is it like copy and paste?
No, it certainly isn’t! Although all satellites have a common baseline, you will never be able to rebuild a satellite one to one. Each satellite will have to be calibrated differently because some components are slightly different. You have to include this information in the simulator as well.
Only once you have tested and configured the additional simulated satellite with regard to its individual behaviour and functions you can add it to the simulated constellation. That’s the tricky part about constellations satellites – and maybe also about dogs – even if they are the same breed, they are same, same but different.
How we use this know-how: The European Navigation System Galileo
Europe’s future navigation system Galileo consists currently of four IOV (in-orbit-validation) satellites. In the future it will consist of a complete constellation of 30 satellites. With the planned launch of two more satellites in August 2014, the constellation will enter the Full-Operational-Capability (FOC) phase.
Telespazio is highly involved in the Galileo programme: Telespazio and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have created the joint venture SpaceOpal GmbH to prepare and implement all Galileo operations. SpaceOpal is in charge of controlling the satellites, the navigation data processing and of monitoring the worldwide receiving systems.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is also supporting various elements of the Galileo programme: Early from the beginning, the German company was involved in signal validation tests, studies and analyses. One of the early milestones was the provision of the Galileo System Simulation Facility (GSSF), allowing potential end users to simulate signal coverage, service reception and service availability.
In addition to this, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has developed and is permanently adapting the Galileo Constellation Simulator (CSIM) to reflect the current and future constellation operations. This goes along with the provision of training and simulation campaigns. Many of the Telespazio VEGA Deutschland staff are trained on this constellation simulator: A large part of the Galileo Control Centre Operations team in Oberpfaffenhofen consists of our Telespazio VEGA Deutschland colleagues, working 24/7 in shifts to ensure that Europe’s safety-critical navigation system is permanently available.
Thumbnail: Copyright Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
DLR Galileo – Galileo Control Centre – ESA Galileo – European Commission Galileo –Telespazio and DLR confirm responsibility for Galileo Operations - Telespazio and Galileo
Ground Systems – Systems Engineering Services – Simulation – Training – Satellite Operations – GSSF – GNSS Infrastructure and Services
| August 2014 |
The Climate as Consumer product - The EPS Second Generation Mission
Normally when you walk into a supermarket you get a pre-defined range of products. Somebody else has customized them for you. There have been trade-offs, there have been cost, there have been even calculations what the best price would be to sell it to the maximum amount of people. But is it the ideal product for you?
Now, imagine you could actually modify and improve one of these products. Create a wish list what the product would look like, what it can do – and how much you would be prepared to pay for it. Sounds exciting? Wait, we have more…
You are a climate researcher or a meteorologist; A European Agency calls you one day and asks “Hey, we plan to launch a new satellite that will provide improved data on the climate. We have a set of cool instruments on board. How would you like them to be configured? - And how much would you pay for it?” That’s climate on demand for you!
Mission Design is exactly that
We have met four of our colleagues working on the Mission Design of the future satellites for the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) Second Generation (SG) at EUMETSAT. And their job is more or less to get these two parties together. There are the end users of climate and meteorological data on the one side who have their wish list of instruments output data. And on the other side there are the satellite manufacturers who have to stick to physical limitations. For example, a specific material is too expensive to be used but the usage of a different material will affect the performance of an instrument.
Henry Walls, who is expert on the so-called “bigger picture”, namely the complete System explains: “Our work starts before the spacecraft is built. It is like a black box and we act as an interface between the scientists, the end users and the manufacturers. For instance, a particular on-board instrument will measure some physical condition on Earth. All we receive is a value for this condition. This data needs to be interpreted and processed using algorithms in order to generate a product like wind speed and wind direction before it makes any sense to the end user. Another instrument may measure values to be converted into temperatures – but all instrument measurement data needs to be interpreted and scaled.”
Interferences from everywhere
And here is the problem: If the instrument is built in a different way than requested or implemented in a different way or the instrument is contaminated or not calibrated correctly, it might deliver a different value – how do you interpret the value in this case? If the instruments are not set-up and calibrated correctly the values returned from them are not reliable indicators of the value you are trying to measure. Considering temperatures, as temperatures vary throughout the day and from place to place different temperature values are expected. But if instruments are without accurate calibration, the scaling of the temperatures could be incorrect and result in different values from “ground truth”. So, what does the scientist get? Is it still the data from the previous wish list?
As in the famous illustration "What the customer really wanted" products may turn out to be differently delivered. - Illustration by S. Høgh in Teaching Design (1993), Source: www.businessballs.com
This is why mission design needs to take place in close collaboration with the end user. Henry continues: “My job is to understand the calibrations and decontamination requirements of the instruments such that the instrument data can be converted to products that meet the end user needs. It requires the use of raw and processed data and takes into consideration real measurements from Earth and reference sources on-board the satellite or from a laboratory. Because in the end, you want to make the end users happy and deliver to them what they asked for. Calibration specifications are absolutely necessary to guarantee that they get what they requested. They are paying customers after all.” That’s the first step to define the black box.
Wish list 2.0
Now that we have configured and calibrated our spacecraft instruments, let’s take a look into how the end users get the data. How often do they get data? You are certainly not surprised that they, as all customers, want more data, better data and faster data. EPS-SG has been set a target to deliver selected data from observations over Europe and the North Atlantic within 30 minutes. Currently, the timeliness ranges between 60 and 90 minutes. What a challenge!
Our colleague, Fabrizio Di Loreto, is the expert on this particular challenge in mission design. He overviews the Ground Segment Design which includes also all antennas receiving data from the satellites. “First of all, you need to specify how much data will be acquired within a specific period of time and how often it can be downlinked (possible only in ground station visibility) – or should we say how often it should be downlinked ideally to match the timeliness target,” he tells us. Of course, this takes into consideration only one satellite. In total six satellites will be launched, one at a time, but the system will be designed for four operational satellites at the same time during the 21 years mission lifetime. Adding to the complexity, two satellites are needed to cover the full instrument complement. The ground segment will need to be adapted to these conditions.
Target for EPS-SG end users from Europe and the North Atlantic: Get Data within 30 minutes instead of 90. - Photo Copyright EUMETSAT 2014
“The ground system should be designed in a very specific way to cope with the amount of data and the steadily increasing amount of data, until all four satellites are operational,” Fabrizio continues. “It is mostly about writing specifications and requirements – after all, the ground segment is not yet built either. And I need to take into consideration that this ideal set-up might not be implemented. You have to be able to tell end users what this means for the timely delivery of their data.” Oh, wish list, where are you?
Where is my product?
But here you are - you are the climate researcher or meteorologist and you wonder: Why do I have to bother? After all, I am interested in one particular product! – But this product may come as a combination from different, individual instruments. . That’s where our colleague Jan Svoboda plays a role. Jan looks at the so-called instrument chains.
“I coordinate the relevant contributions of different teams involved in the development of the instruments starting from data acquisition on-board via ground processing down to dissemination to the overall performance achieved at the end of the instrument chain.
Since I know the system performance as a whole I can also check the performance of every single instrument. The data quality requested by the end user - whether from one instrument or product based on several sources – has to be monitored over the project lifecycle. This is how we ensure that the final product has the quality expected by user community. So, yes, if you are a researcher you might want to know how your product is put together and have the confidence in every single instrument that contributes to it.
How do I get my product – How does it get to me?
So far, we have discussed the system, the timeliness requirements and the individual instruments. But the data is of no use if it doesn’t get to the users. And it can take different ways as Harold Metselaar, responsible for the System interface definitions, explains:
“You have to image, for me the System of EPS-SG is like a black box. What I look at are the ‘lines’ going out from the system to the external entities like institutes, Satellite Application Facilities (SAF), contractors, partner agencies, e.g. CNES, NOAA, DLR and ESA who want to work with the data. There are also ‘lines’ going out to the Satellite Simulator, the LEOP Service Provider, RF Suitcases and other test tools. All these lines connect the system with the user and other (sub-)systems and it is my job to write requirements on what and how data exchanges will take place in the future.” And there is a lot! Harold names data such as the data products; but the instrument teams might also want to update the on-board software, parameters, provide calibration data etc. you need also a line into the black box.
The EPS-SG System Architecture - Many "Outgoing lines" and "ingoing lines" - Illustration Copyright EUMETSAT
“Only later, when we all agree on these requirements – basically, what data do we ever need to exchange? – I will write Interface Control Documents (ICD). There we will define in particular the mediums used for the exchange, the protocols used, the data streams and the format of the data items that will be exchanged. It’s like telling your customer: If you want to get your product, please use the front door. If you have a delivery, please use the delivery entrance. And the products you get in this shop have a specified packaging in weight and dimensions.”
Get what you asked for
There are ideal products and there are real products. And the same will apply to the final agreement on the EPS-SG mission. There are constraints, there need to be compromises. But through clever configuration and calibrations the result will be what the end users asked for. Our four colleagues are already very excited: “There will be lots of cool products!”
| August 2014 |
Telespazio VEGA quoted as expert for suborbital space trends
The Head of the New Space Section at Telespazio VEGA, Dr. Olympia Kyriopoulos, has been invited by the German Technical magazine on “Flight medicine, tropical medicine and travel medicine” to contribute to a trending topic: Suborbital Space. In the next issue, being published on 14 August 2014, regular readers but also those interested in suborbital space flight will get exclusive insights into future microgravity research platforms.
The reason for the invitation lies in Telespazio VEGA’s involvement in new space activities which the company has been pursuing for over a decade. Many suborbital launch vehicle providers are getting ready to offer regular and safe flights, at first directed at research under microgravity, later offered to space tourists.
The market is heating up
By the end of this year, several suborbital flight opportunity providers have stated to be ready to offer test flights – ideally suited for experiments, fancy promotional campaigns or any other objects mankind wants to make “fly”.
In the magazine article “Biomedical research on-board suborbital flights”, Dr. Kyriopoulos, will be presenting these opportunities and how they revolutionise research under microgravity conditions:
“Following this rapid development of suborbital flight technology, providers of flight opportunities are looking for potential customers. One example that we are addressing in the magazine is dedicated to biomedical research under microgravity conditions. We as Telespazio VEGA understand both actors: the researchers and the flight providers. And we can bring them together: technically, logistically, and legally. There are many things to consider and I am very happy to have been invited to contribute to the magazine.”
With these new suborbital reusable launch vehicles experiments can be performed several times per day, customers will receive their data in shorter time and will be able to reduce their overall micro-g campaign cost.
Ideas for microgravity - What is yours?
But not only researchers will benefit from these flights: new technology applied under microgravity, fundamental research, earth imagery, new transportation means or simply a cool promotional marketing campaign. Whatever you imagine to launch into suborbital space – for fun, for education, for innovation – Telespazio VEGA supports you in making it fly and return safely.
Interested in flying with us?
Learn more about Telespazio VEGA’s involvement and offering in suborbital space activities or get in touch with us today to have your experiment on the next suborbital flight opportunity.
Suborbital Flight with Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Flight medicine, tropical medicine and travel medicine - Issue 2014/04
SubSpace Workshop hosted by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
| July 2014 |
Packing your “suitcase” for the ISS – ATV-5
When leaving on a holiday everyone has his or her own method of packing and squeezing the last item into the suitcase. As long as it is inside, the holiday can begin… but not in the case of the Automated Transfer Vehicle ATV-5 Georges Lemaître whose launch is currently scheduled for 30 July 2014 at 1:44 CEST from Kourou, French Guiana. Our colleague from Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, Colleen Boggs, who works on the ATV-5 mission at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, explains why packing this vehicle is more complex than packing a normal suitcase.
Why Cargo Management is rocket science, too!
“First of all, you don’t simply pack 2.6 tonnes of dry cargo. As in every regular suitcase there are some cargo elements that need to go in first and you need to specify also how they are transferred into the ATV and how they need to be unpacked on board the ISS,” Colleen tells us. “Just like you would fold and unfold your trousers using a particular technique to squeeze the optimum amount of contents into your suitcase, there is a particular order and technique for the ATV cargo.”
Inside the ATV-4 in Bremen - Copyright ESA
In order to ensure everything has its right place, Colleen travels every year to the ATV construction site in Bremen to see the vehicle and ensure labels are correctly placed, cargo belts are properly installed, and the tools the crew will use for any on-orbit operations fit the hardware fixations. “I also travel to NASA in Houston to coordinate improvements in the choreography of unpacking of liquids and dry cargo as well of the re-packing with liquids and trash. The vehicle is tightly packed and available space must be closely managed.” ATV carries both cargo for the European, Russian, American and Japanese astronauts on board the ISS.
Handle with care
Once arrived, you cannot simply open the doors and unpack the ATV. “The astronauts might encounter loose particles, just like in a ‘normal’ suitcase that has been tossed around. So be careful when opening the ‘suitcase’,” Colleen adds. “Also, some of the dry cargo, for example experiments, need to be handled with special care; that’s why we train the unloading procedure also on Earth.”
In order to ensure everything works fine, Colleen writes and revises the crew procedures in advance. “While the crew on the ISS unloads the liquid, gas, and dry cargo supplies, I am on console, monitoring the actual cargo transfer operations,” she says. “That's the moment where I can troubleshoot any issues with NASA, Roscosmos, or the ESA Columbus Control Centre. For example, there could be a tool or a bag missing to store equipment, or the crew might have skipped a step in the procedure. I need to make sure the vehicle specialists and the flight director are informed. Together we seek a solution as quickly as possible for the astronauts.“
Colleen Boggs on console - Copyright CNES L. Ribes 2013
Taking out the trash without colliding with the ISS
But the ATV is more than just an enormous suitcase whose content can be mixed up on the inside: In fact, when approaching or leaving the ISS it is also a potential hazard that can damage the Space Station. Correct packing can help to increase precise manoeuvring: “Even though we are in weightlessness, the ATV needs to be packed in a specific way to ensure centre of mass calculation. If we pack one side with more heavy items than on the other side, the firing of the jets would not be as precise and we would have less vehicle control.” Looking at that, Colleen also feels responsible for the crew’s safety. “In the worst case, the ATV could even collide with the ISS or, when re-entering the atmosphere, not burn up correctly or completely. So, even the waste needs to be packed in a specific way,” she concludes. All this results in a complex system of labelling, packing and unpacking the ATV – properly documented, tested and trained well in advance on Earth.
Changing your plan is only human
Following our earthly experience with packing suitcases – you decide to take some more clothes last minute or you decide to repack the entire suitcase – the same can happen to ATV Cargo Operations. “A large part of my job is to deal with the unexpected. Sometimes, I need to juggle urgent cargo requests from NASA and Roscosmos on the same day while ensuring the vehicle remains weight-balanced, or quickly rewrite a crew procedure to deal with a hardware failure.”
The ATV during docking - Copyright: ESA/NASA
In fact, she has already experienced two nerve-wracking, critical situations: Due to a failure that could have led to an early undocking of the vehicle, she coordinated a rapid unpacking of the ATV with all involved control centres.
“After these stressful moments, I was able to go on leave and have a mental break from those critical situations. So I packed my suitcase and explored more of France. In fact, I use the rolling technique for clothes.”
The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is ESA’s unmanned, partly automated cargo spacecraft. It regularly carries wet and dry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). Apart from three water tanks – the wet cargo – it also provides dry air, oxygen, propellant and dry material such as new hardware (experiments), crew supplies and clothes. When leaving the ISS it is manoeuvred to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, together with waste from the Space Station.
The fifth vehicle ATV-5 is named after the Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître, the father of the Big Bang theory. It will be controlled from the ATV Control Centre, located at the French Space Agency’s premises (CNES) in Toulouse.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA/NASA
ATV on ESA website – ATV Blog – ATV Control Centre at CNES – Training – “Theoretically, I could be an astronaut”
| July 2014 |
Data Centre inauguration in the Vault
On the 17 July, the new high-security Data Centre in the former building of the Federal State Bank in Darmstadt was officially inaugurated. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has signed a memorandum of understanding with DARZ and took part in the ceremony as one of DARZ’ new partners.
DARZ building - Source: Frankfurter Rundschau - Copyright: Claus Völker
The importance of the inauguration of the high-security data centre was underlined by the presence and opening speech of Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and coordinator of the Federal Government’s German Aerospace activities.
“In my speeches I use to say that data are the gold of the internet age – which comes very close to DARZ’s claim”, Zypries opened her speech. She underlined how important data are nowadays for our society and especially enterprises built on digital business models. However, she also mentioned how current digital and society developments are making it hard for such enterprises. In times of cyber criminality the existence of such companies is at stake. And the recent Snowden uncoverings have made people nervous. “We need to regain trust in data storage,” she said, congratulating DARZ on setting a new standard and to regain this trust.
Jochen Partsch, mayor of the city of Darmstadt, emphasised in his speech how important Darmstadt is as the Engineering “Head” of the Region, combining five strong industries in the city: Space, ICT, Mechanical Engineering, Pharmaceutics and Hair cosmetics. “DARZ is the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle” he said. “It was about time to have our own, independent data centre.”
Data is more valuable than money
This is DARZ’ founder’s, Sergey Mirochnik, vision and conviction. John Lewis, Managing Director of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, shares this vision and went even further: “Your data are very safe at DARZ. We on the other hand want to make sure they are transported securely.”
DARZ Founder Sergey Mirochnik and IT and Facility planner Jens Dittrich at the vault. Source: Darmstädter Echo - Foto: Claus Völker
During his welcoming speech, John Lewis highlighted the importance of data security from Telespazio VEGA Deutschland’s core business, Space. Satellites are now part of our safety-critical infrastructure and need to be securely controlled. In addition, they are producing an ever-increasing amount of data which needs to be securely transported and stored.
“Satellite communication should be always considered part of the ICT strategy of any company or institution. However, there are prejudices about the cost, the security and scalability which today are just not true,” John Lewis continued. Through the memorandum of understanding, the partners intend to create more awareness for the benefits of Satellite Communication and how it can help ensure business continuity. “I am very much looking forward to our collaboration,” he closed.
Telespazio, the mother company of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, has its roots in Satellite Telecommunication. Telespazio operates the largest commercial Teleport in Europe and offers its clients secure, reliable and globally available solutions.
In Germany, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, is combining the Group’s heritage with its experience in managing the safety-critical ICT infrastructure at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and in processing satellite navigation and weather forecast data.
Telespazio Website – Satellite Communication – DARZ – ICT Management Services
| July 2014 |
The comet as puzzle – Rosetta is coming closer
Do you remember when you solved your first puzzle? Was it a small one and fairly easy to solve?
Try to imagine the first puzzle you were given as a child consisted of several thousand pieces and you didn’t know what the result was to look like. Would you have solved it as easily as you would do today? Would it have taken you days, weeks or months to solve? Would you have given up even?
If you are a passionate puzzle solver today you will probably agree that giving up is not an option. But it is better to approach a new subject with easier challenge before moving on to the really difficult ones.
Our Telespazio VEGA colleagues from Flight Dynamics, who work at the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt, were recently confronted with a similar problem: Currently, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is approaching the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (C-G) and very soon we will receive the first imagery of the comet details. These photos will help the Rosetta team to understand the comet better and to determine which places are ideal for the planned landing in November 2014.
Our colleague Robin Raus, Engineer for Test & Validation - Attitude, works in the Flight Dynamics Division at ESA’s Operations Centre. He explains why the comet is a bit like a puzzle. “Each spacecraft has a star tracker on board. This is normally sufficient to determine our attitude, meaning the orientation in which the instruments are pointing. Furthermore, ground tracking is used to get a pretty decent idea of where we are in space.
But in this particular case we want to land on a comet and we need camera images of the comet to know more precisely where we are. When we approach the comet – the closer we get – the better and more detailed the images we will be. But we need to learn how to put them together and which image belongs where – and until now we don’t know what the final image looks like. This is not something we do every day. After all the spacecraft is moving and the comet is rotating all the time. But it is too risky to learn how to put the puzzle together once we get real imagery. We need to train solving complex puzzles well in advance.”
“So basically, you generate one fake photo and send it to your colleagues?” we ask.
The team starts to laugh collectively. “One? Hundreds!” reply Francesco Castellini and Sabine Kielbassa simultaneously. They are Robin’s colleagues, also from Telespazio VEGA working at ESA/ESOC in Flight Dynamics, responsible for AOCS (attitude orbit control system) telemetry monitoring and optical navigation. Indeed, over the last six months, Robin has generated many hundreds of images from a 3D asteroid model, scaled them down and has sent those to Francesco and Sabine. They processed these images and tried to determine what the spacecraft was looking at. [To enlarge click on image]
„“This is essential if you want to find out how the comet is rotating, how the spacecraft moves relative to the comet and in what direction the comet is moving, rotating and what are the comet physical properties.”, adds our colleague Bernard Godard, working on the Rosetta orbit determination. “The more we know about the rotational behaviour and physical properties of the comet (gravity, the comet’s atmosphere – the so-called coma) the better we can predict the Rosetta trajectory. And of course, the better we can predict our orbit the better we can reduce the risk of missing the target when we plan to land.”
Until the team receives real images from the close comet – which is planned for August 2014 – Robin’s generated images will be used. “Until then I am something like their puzzle trainer.”
“So how do you match those images to the comet? This is not a normal puzzle after all” we ask curiously.
“Yes and No,” says Francesco. “When we receive the imagery, whether the simulated one or the real one, we try to identify landmarks on the images and match them to the comet. Of course, this is supported by complex software which takes into account the spacecraft and comet trajectories and orientation. It is a bit like a 4D puzzle, but for engineers,” he smiles.
Of course, as everything in space industry, every system and calculation is prepared twice. “All tasks performed by Flight Dynamics are performed by another, separate team, just to check that our solutions match. Or in this case, our final puzzle image is the same,” finishes Sabine.
So, next time you solve a puzzle, give Rosetta a thought and imagine how well it contributes to rocket science every day.
The Rosetta spacecraft, which was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket in March 2004, is planned to arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 6 August 2014. Under the leadership of ESA Science experts and Sylvain Lodiot as its ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager in Darmstadt, Rosetta will then examine the comet from close proximity and dispatch a robotic lander (Philae) to land on the comet’s surface in early November.
The science data from both modules, orbiter and lander, will provide information about the molecular composition of the comet, in particular looking at elements that are essential for life on Earth. Rosetta may contribute to the question whether and how comets brought life to Earth.
Thumbnail - The Rosetta spacecraft and the landing module - ESA
Picture 1 - Our colleagues from Flight Dynamics Team pointing at where more or less the camera is on the Rosetta spacecraft; well, more or less. - Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Picture 2 - A Screenshot of a 3D asteroid model used for training - ESA
Rosetta on ESA website – Rosetta DLR website – Philae Blog – Rosetta Blog – Satellite Operations – The Rosetta Time Warp– Comet Chasing like from the book – Philae commissioning – Training – Simulation
| June 2014 |
European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) 2014
Forward-Thinking Galileo Applications Wanted - Submission Deadline 30 June 2014 -
Since 2004, the annual European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) has recognised products, services, and innovations designed to enhance everyday life with the help of satellite navigation. In addition to cash prizes, winners profit primarily from the assistance they receive in implementing their business models. They also benefit from working closely with partner regions and leading affiliated institutions around the world. Geared towards individuals and teams from universities and the broader fields of research and industry, the ESNC invites those interested to participate from 1 April to 30 June 2014 at www.hesse.galileo-masters.eu.
The Hesse Challenge
The region of Hesse will be also awarding a prize through the ESA Business Incubation Centre cesah.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland as shareholder of cesah
Hesse Galileo Masters
Prizes of the competition
| June 2014 |
Live-demonstration: SatCom for the Sparkasse Finance Group
On 20 and 21 May, the Sparkasse Finance Group invited Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, together with further 10 selected suppliers to its annual client forum held in Castle Waldthausen near Mainz. During the two-day event, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland was invited to give a live demonstration of mobile banking applications through its satellite communication services. The Sparkasse is one of the biggest financial institutions in Germany.
The audience of the event, consisting of the over 70 key decision makers within the Sparkasse Finance Group regarding department management and IT strategy, strongly appreciated the presented solution. Patrick Lewis, Senior Sales Consultant for Satellite Communications in Telespazio VEGA explained why: “All banks need to make sure they are compliant with the latest security and availability regulations made by the EU when using Backup via Satellite. Our solution has been built to be compliant with this standard, BASEL-2, from the very beginning.”
The live demonstration of the service was presented together with the recently delivered bank vehicle of the Sparkasse Dillenburg, designed and built by Berger Karosserie- und Fahrzeugbau GmbH, Frankfurt. “When the attendees of the workshop saw the mobile bank vehicle, they laughed at first,” tells us Patrick Lewis. “But once they retrieved cash and an account statement ‘via satellite’ from the ATM machine in the bus, they were surprised. I believe this was the moment when many of the decision makers lost their scepticism towards satellite communication. Thank you very much to the Sparkasse Finance Group for the unique opportunity and the invitation.”
Satellite Communication is an essential part of the portfolio of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. Building on the expertise of the Telespazio Group, many clients can benefit from this service, starting from the banking and industry sector, forestry, maritime, energy, oil and gas and many more.
Sparkasse Dillenburg – Sparkasse Finance Group - Berger Karosserie- und Fahrzeugbau - Networks & Connectivity Portfolio – Space Technology for Sparkasse Dillenburg – Deutsche Welle report on Satellite Communication
| May 2014 |
Theoretically I could be an astronaut
When astronauts are assigned to a flight in two years’ time, their training begins. At this moment, a schedule needs to be already in place. An entire workforce of instructors is waiting for the training to begin. They already know what the astronauts need to know in two years. Theoretically.
Our colleague, Frank Salmen, who works at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, works closely with astronauts and develops their training for particular experiments and payloads. “I work on Columbus Payload Training and am Prime Instructor for the European Physiology Modules (EPM). This means that I developed the training for this module and I am certified to both give training and train other instructors. For example, I have been trained by another instructor for the Biolab Module and am a certified Backup instructor.”
Is it all about certification?
If you think about the tight time schedule that astronauts have on board the ISS you might wonder who puts the schedule together. How do you know how long an experiment will take, so that they manage within time? Has anyone tested the procedure before and how many attempts do you have before you need to proceed to the next experiment? Scientists and industry spend a lot of time and effort to get their experiment to the ISS – of course you need to make sure that the astronaut is properly trained and that the instructor knows what he is talking about – that he is certified.
Understanding the experiment
“In order to train someone, you need to understand the matter yourself first”, tells us Frank. “And you need to downsize the amount of information that the astronaut really needs to know. We have one or two hours of training scheduled per experiment. Since the astronauts commute between Russia, USA, Japan, Canada and Europe, within their two years training period, they spend roughly five weeks in Cologne at the EAC – five single weeks spread over two years.”
These weeks need to be used most efficiently for the astronauts. This is why Frank undertakes all necessary efforts to understand the experiments. He reads the formal procedures written by the User Support & Operation Center (USOC) -Teams, learns them and tries them out in an internal dry run with other instructors. He talks to the hardware and software providers which are often distributed throughout Europe and across various institutions or universities.
“You cannot expect the astronaut to do this all alone. In order to convert all this information into a lesson for one experiment, I need roughly four months,” explains Frank. “And since I do not teach all details, I am probably better prepared for some experiments than the astronauts. Theoretically I could be an astronaut.”
A test to pass for the instructor
In order to qualify to teach an experiment, Frank needs to prepare the lesson like a teacher. He defines what the performance objectives for the crew members are: Is it more about knowledge or rather about hands-on experience? How do you measure that the astronaut understood everything? Only once all objectives, training material, for example a presentation and a schedule for the practical experience are prepared, he is ready for the official dry run.
“This is actually quite an official event. There are training leads from ESA attending, one crew member, people from the User Support Centres that are in charge of managing the experiments and other instructors. I have to perform the lesson in front of them and only if they give me thumbs up, I get the certification to teach this particular lesson and train other instructors.”
Per year, Frank teaches around 20 different lessons within the payload module and every year he develops roughly four to five new ones.
Keeping the overview
With so many people involved in one lesson preparation, what comes in quite handy is a planning tool to get an overview on the training activities: The Astronaut Training Database, developed by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, combines all information regarding performance objectives, schedules, instructional needs, rooms and racks needed and even who needs to attend when, for example for the internal and official dry run.
“Of course there are always details that I will not know or that I didn’t think about”, adds Frank. Every astronaut has different questions, depending on the background. “Pilots have different questions than scientists or engineers. And of course there is always the bigger picture. For example, Alexander Gerst, who is flying to the ISS in May, always questions what the benefit of this or that experiment is for Planet Earth, in line with his mission Blue Dot. That’s maybe why Alexander is the astronaut and not me: He sees things more practically.”
Alexander Gerst Blog – European Astronaut Centre – Blue Dot mission
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in Cologne – Training Systems
| March 2014 |
My first time on the A-Team – About heroes and sentinels
It doesn’t need a professional wrestler to bring a spacecraft into space – in the space business you need rather a bunch of smart engineers. They determine whether the launch and deployment will be successful. We met one of our Telespazio VEGA Deutschland colleagues Aldo Barbieri for a future hero’s coffee break to learn more about the Sentinel-1a launch, scheduled for 3 April 2014. The spacecraft will be controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt under the lead of an ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager.
“This is my first time on the A-Team,” tells us Aldo Barbieri, Spacecraft Operations Engineer on Sentinel-1A. “I have previously taken part in a Launch Campaign of a similar Earth Observation mission, Cryosat-2, but I was on the B-Team. The B-Team is a backup team that takes over when someone from A is not available and of course alternates with us on shifts. But for the first time, I will be actually in the A-Team – at the forefront when the satellite is launched!”
Synthetic Aperture Radar
Of course, Aldo has no reason to be nervous: He has previously worked on a similar mission, Envisat, and was responsible for the very same instrument on board: The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) will take radar images from the Earth in all weather conditions, day and night. The previous ESA satellite equipped with a SAR, Envisat, had a key role in providing Europe with radar images. But since the loss of connection to Envisat there is now a gap in data production. The 3 April will be a big day for Aldo to give Europe back its “radar eyes”.
“I know the SAR very well and it is my job to ensure it is working properly – many scientists in Europe rely on us after all!” continues Aldo. Approximately 24 minutes after the launch of the Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, the spacecraft will be released and will enter its polar orbit. That’s when the work for Aldo will begin: “We have only a little battery on board, so we have to deploy the solar arrays quickly to have energy. More or less at the same time we will deploy the SAR. I will be in charge of both operations, so this is going to be an exciting day for me.”
Currently, the entire Mission Control Team (MCT) undergoes dedicated training – the simulation campaign – which is co-led by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland colleague Filipe Metelo. During these scheduled training sessions that started formally in January 2014 the MCT practises how to deal with the satellite, the ground systems and with the other teams of experts supporting the LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase). “They have a great team spirit”, says Filipe. “They are all very intelligent engineers and will make sure we have a successful mission. After all we have trained them well … I love it when a plan comes together.”
About Sentinel and the bigger picture: Copernicus
Copernicus is an ambitious Earth observation programme headed by the European Commission and partnered by the European Space Agency (ESA) and European Environment Agency (EEA). It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
Within Copernicus, ESA is developing five new missions called Sentinels. Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites to fulfil revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus Services. Sentinel 1A which is planned to launch on 3 April 2014 is one of many satellites to follow.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA/ATG medialab
Main image: Copyright Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
Sentinel-1 (ESA) – Sentinel overview (ESA) – Copernicus (ESA) - ESOC
Telespazio Group involvement in Copernicus - Ground Systems – Systems Development – Satellite Ground Segment – Satellite Operations
A-Team (TV series) on IMDB
| March 2014 |
Comet chasing like from the book – Philae commissioning
„When real satellite operations become almost boring you are correctly prepared“
- Koen Geurts, Technical Manager of the Rosetta Lander Philae
When on 28 of March the Rosetta Lander Philae is switched back on for the first time since its 39 months of hibernation began, the least exciting part of our Telespazio VEGA colleague, Koen Geurts’ work will begin. Koen is the Technical Manager of Philae, working at the German Space Operations Centre (DLR). “Actually we have been preparing for these few weeks of the landing module’s commissioning for two years. All systems that we are going to test in this period, all procedures that we will go through one by one, have been planned in detail years and years ago. We know exactly what we are doing.”
Philae Testing on Ground: Koen working on the Philae Lander - Copyright: DLR
In these four weeks of commissioning, a team of experts, based at the Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) at DLR in Cologne, will check how well Philae has managed the hibernation and if the ten instruments are working as desired. Philae is the landing module of the Rosetta spacecraft and is supposed to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014.
Already mid-2012, all teams of the Philae instruments were asked how much time they would need to do all these tests, how much data they would need to send to the Earth and how much energy they estimated to use up. The Rosetta spacecraft, which is still 628 million kilometres away from the sun, must use energy efficiently, because both the spacecraft and the landing module are operated through solar panels in parallel. Not everything can be tested and switched on at the same time.
Planning is half the life, literally – like in the German saying
„The collection of all information from all scientists alone took us already three months” Koen tells us. “And this does not mean that we will receive the preferred testing time and capacity. We need to coordinate closely with ESA which commands are sent, when and in which order. Since Rosetta is operated, in addition to this, at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt (ESOC), we will need for some commands during the commissioning someone from Darmstadt to give us the Go or No-Go. These are called the interactive passes – these passes have also been put in our calendars long ago.
The difference between today and tomorrow
Now it is scheduled who is going to take which shift during the commissioning phase in the control room at DLR. Since Philae is going to transmit data between 12 and 14 hours in a row, the team needs to take turns during that period.
But Koen is already ahead of time. “I am already preparing the comet phase and planning it. Since I am going to be in the control room for the next four weeks, this is going to be a relaxing exercise.”
Knowing Philae's systems inside-put and in 3D is also part of the planning process - Copyright DLR
Also for the comet phase, Koen needs to work closely together with all involved partners to complete the complex puzzle: For example, he receives, on one hand, information from his colleagues in Flight Dynamics in Darmstadt, when the lander will approximately be in contact with Rosetta and Rosetta to the Earth. The team of the French Space Agency CNES provides, on the other hand, specifications when specific experiments have to take place and which experiments have to take place together. Here again, Koen combines this information and checks whether the landing module can transmit all data to the Earth in time and whether there is enough energy for operating the instruments. “This is the baseline to develop a frame concept for all experiments that we have to confirm with ESA two weeks before the landing on the comet in November. Last but not least, it will very much depend on the landing site whether we can implement everything the way we want.”
Whether it will be a bit boring during the comet and landing phase, we want to know from him. “Ideally yes – after all we are well prepared”, smiles Koen, “But on the other hand, we do not land every day on a comet.”
Thumbnail: Copyright DLR
Philae Blog – Rosetta Blog – Rosetta on DLR website – DLR MUSC – Rosetta on ESA website – Rosetta on CNES website – Systems Engineering – And in particular: Systems Engineering Services – The Rosetta Time warp
| March 2014 |
Long-distance relationships (and coffee breaks) need to be planned – Gaia MPS
Being so far away from Earth, Gaia’s every activity must be carefully planned – which differs from regular satellites that orbit around Earth. For Gaia, due to distance to Earth, the data rate is lower, passes are less frequent and at the same time the data volume is huge. Gaia will observe our galaxy by producing a high-resolution 3D map. At the end of its mission, ESA’s astronomy mission Gaia will have observed every star 70 times on average. Nevertheless, the collected data needs to be submitted to Earth. A robust and flexible Mission Planning System (MPS) is needed to coordinate the requirements of the scientists who plan Gaia’s astronomy survey and the mission controllers who fly the spacecraft.
About Mission Planning
Mission Planning Systems help the Flight Control Team to schedule manoeuvres, scientific tasks and routine activities such as ground station passes in an automated way. Such mission plans can be very detailed not only for the next two-week period, but also for the very long term – covering up to 18 months. Moreover, the Gaia MPS will also automate some routine commanding to be executed by the spacecraft, for example it creates commands for the spacecraft to switch to a different downlink rate during periods of visibility to ease the work of the Flight Control Team.
The Gaia Mission Control Team (Robin and Sonia) can also schedule coffee breaks using an MPS. - Photo: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
“Gaia will produce a 3D map of our milky way that will be processed on Earth into 3D images. For us, this means a lot of data to handle!” tells us Robin Steel, Mission Planning expert at Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. He is in the MPS-team for Gaia and knows how difficult it can be to satisfy the needs of the controllers, scientists and ground stations at the same time. “Gaia can store a huge but limited amount of data on-board; the opportunities to transmit data to Earth are restricted due to shorter passes and atmospheric effects on the signal. The challenge here is to get most from the maximum bandwidth to get the photos from the satellite in time,” Robin continues. If they don’t the photos are overwritten by the next ones taken and the map of the universe would be incomplete; a considerate loss for the involved scientists.
For the full image of the coffe break code click on the image to enlarge. - Copyright: Robin Steel
All about team work
The Gaia MPS that Robin has developed with his team is based on the experience they have gathered on previous highly-demanding ESA missions such as Mars Express, Venus Express and Envisat. The amount of data generated by Gaia requires close collaboration between the Flight Control Team and Flight Dynamics in order to receive all data from the spacecraft in time: While the Flight Dynamics Experts can check when and how long Gaia will contact with one of the dedicated ground stations (based on the relative geometry between Earth and the spacecraft), the Flight Control Team prepares the requirements for station time. And then it’s all about matching the information: Only once the amount of collected data is predicted, how much time it will take to downlink it and how much ground station time is available, the Flight Control Team and the scheduling office can ‘book’ the necessary station time to ensure download. All these downlinks need to be scheduled well in advance – otherwise the slot (at the station) might be given to another mission.
The most important task is to involve all necessary stakeholders at a very early stage and ensure everybody works together. Only when collaboration on Earth works and results in an integrated plan acceptable to all, can the long-distance relationship with Gaia work smoothly.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA
Gaia on ESA website - GAIA blog - European Space Operations Centre - Ground Systems - Satellite Ground Segment - Gaia Research Group at University of Barcelona - Gaia App (Apple Store)
| February 2014 |
The Rosetta time warp
We are all used to asking what time it is if we don’t have a watch at hand. But for the Rosetta Flight Control Team, the most common question was “What day is it?” while they were preparing for the wake-up of Rosetta from Deep Space Hibernation. Why? Because they were caught in a time machine!
Several months before the successful wake-up of the Rosetta spacecraft on 20 January 2014 - the Flight Control Team (FCT) had to start training for real operations. Since there are many Telespazio VEGA Deutschland colleagues in the Rosetta FCT at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), we were able to get an insight into the simulation training sessions.
At ESOC, every FCT undergoes simulation training before they are allowed to work with the real spacecraft. And of course, most training needs to be done just before the launch. But what if your spacecraft is 1000 million kilometres away, in hibernation for 31 months, not reachable and you forget some details that you learned in training in 2004 when Rosetta was launched? Of course, the original FCT that operated Rosetta in 2004 during the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP) and throughout the various flybys was not the same as it is today, 10 years later. And of course, there are different activities that need to be trained for when approaching the comet than when leaving the Earth.
Introducing the time machine
Two of our colleagues in Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, Joe Bush and Filipe Metelo, led the Simulation Campaign to bring the FCT up to speed. “The difficulty with Rosetta was its current distance to the Earth,” says Joe, “which will decrease over the next few months. But at the wake-up, the time that the signal travels between the Earth and Rosetta will be roughly 45 minutes – one way! But I can’t lock up an entire FCT for 90 minutes each time they wait for the responses to their commands during an only 8-hour-long simulation day. It’s important to get as much training out of each simulation day as possible, because the team is also busy with their other preparation work. That’s when we came up with the time warp – a long-standing tradition for every simulations officer.”
Joe is quite right when considering this aspect in the training schedule. A simulation needs to cover both technical failures of the spacecraft and of the ground systems – but it also needs to prepare the people on console for human failures and stress. If you have ever waited for someone to call, you know that waiting is stress!
“The good thing about waiting is that you don’t have to simulate the full 90 minutes two way delay to get people used to waiting.” tells Filipe. “We usually trained with a 30 minute one-way delay and once even with just a ten minute delay, which of course sped up the whole simulation a bit.”
The colleagues from the FCT remember these simulations very well. They did not ‘wait’ in real-time – which is why they could perform several activities in one day; activities which normally took several days because of the long waiting time. “Sometimes Joe and Filipe even jumped time through the night and it was already tomorrow - or even a whole day ahead”, Roberto Porta remembers. He is one of the Operations Engineers in the Rosetta FCT. “Of course this was confusing! We had trouble keeping track of which day it was!”
Also his colleague Armelle Hubault from the FCT remembers one of the weirdest moments during the simulation. “We all wear headsets and use voice loops to communicate with the Simulation Officer, so we don’t have to shout through the control room. But one day, we did not hear anybody’s voice. Joe and Filipe played the “Let’s Do The Time Warp Again” song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show into the voice loop! They were having a great time with us…”
Now that Rosetta has woken up, it is on its way to arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Its distance to the Earth will steadily decrease now because both comet and spacecraft are again coming closer to the Sun. This will luckily also reduce the signal time lapse and operations will become busier. Later this year, Joe and Filipe plan to train the FCT again – this time, they will need to prepare a simulation campaign in which Rosetta will be almost permanently visible, closer to the comet, and the team will need to work in shifts. “Let’s see what the time machine can do for us this time”, Joe smiles.
Our Rosetta colleagues in Time Warp position.
Copyright: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
The Rosetta spacecraft was launched in March 2004 and is planned to arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in autumn 2014. During its 10 year journey and after various flybys, Rosetta was put into hibernation in order to save energy until arrival. An automated on-board “alarm clock” woke Rosetta up successfully on 20 January 2014. The FCT under leadership of Andrea Accomazzo, ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager for Rosetta, is now fully back to operations to prepare for the rendezvous.
Once it has arrived at the comet, Rosetta will examine it from close proximity and will despatch a robotic lander (Philae) to land on the comet’s surface. The science data from both orbiter and lander will provide scientists with information about the molecular composition of the comet, especially looking at elements that are essential for life on Earth. Rosetta may contribute to the question whether and how comets brought life to Earth.
Copyright thumbnail: ESA - Carreau/ATG medialab
Rosetta on ESA website – Rosetta Blog – Philae Blog - Ground Systems – Systems Development – Simulations – Swarm Simulator –Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in Darmstadt
| January 2014 |
At the “heart” of science – Inside Gaia
The Gaia spacecraft was launched on 19 December 2013 and is already in its final position: The so-called L2 Lagrange position, located 1.5 million km from Earth. From this orbit, Gaia will observe our galaxy producing a high-resolution 3D map. By the end of its mission, ESA’s astronomy mission Gaia will have observed 1 billion stars - every star 70 times on average. The large distance from Earth will also make it difficult to communicate with the spacecraft in real time. Bandwidth is lower and the time lapse until signals arrive at the spacecraft is much larger than with satellites that orbit Earth, similar to an interplanetary science mission!
Fabian Rother, Mission Control expert at Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, knows the problems of such missions.
“Although Gaia is not an interplanetary mission, we handled its MCS in a similar way. Interplanetary missions suffer if many commands have to be resent every time, even for routine operations. But instead of sending a command for a routine manoeuvre each time the satellite is visible to a ground station, for Gaia, regularly performed commands will be stored on the spacecraft. When an execution is needed, the Flight Control Team need submit only a schedule that triggers the commands – a genius way to save bandwidth and time.”
Fabian (in the back) has had a lot of fun leading the project to develop the Gaia MCS.
This procedure was developed through teamwork but Fabian enjoyed leading the project and making sure the idea came to life: ESA commissioned Telespazio VEGA Deutschland to develop a new mission control system (MCS). Gaia will be the second spacecraft whose MCS is based on this newly developed software ‘kernel’, particularly designed to increase performance of interplanetary and science missions. The concept of storing commands on-board is not completely new: It was already implemented for the Rosetta mission, for which Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has also developed the Mission Control System. However for the Gaia MCS the existing Rosetta software needed to be transferred to the modern software technologies used by current mission control systems.
The kernel can be considered already a generic Mission Control System that reflects the needs of interplanetary as well as science & robotic exploration missions. For example, it already has a pre-defined procedure to store routine commands on the spacecraft. Mission-specific mechanisms are added only later, for specific missions. The MCS for future mission, like ExoMars and BepiColombo, will also be built on this so-called ’science kernel’.
“Having a science kernel makes it of course easier when you start to build the MCS for a mission,” Fabian tells us. “But it means also that missions will build upon each other. It feels like building a mission control network throughout our solar system.”
And Gaia – the foundation stone or rather foundation satellite – already holds “position” in L2.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA
Gaia on ESA website - GAIA blog - European Space Operations Centre - Ground Systems - Satellite Ground Segment
| January 2014 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland expands team in Oberpfaffenhofen
Press release - Darmstadt, 8 January 2014
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a Finmeccanica/Thales Company), has secured existing staff positions and will create new ones in Oberpfaffenhofen until 2016. The Telespazio VEGA Deutschland staff, based at the German satellite control centre (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen, will look after the geostationary missions, which will increase in number to four within the next three years.
Thanks to a new contract, awarded to Telespazio VEGA Deutschland by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the team’s existing tasks, which include round-the-clock shift work to operate the two SATCOMBw satellites, will be further extended. The new and ever-expanding team will take over the preparation and support activities for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) of the EDRS-A, EDRS-C and HAG-1 satellites, as well as the routine operations of the EDRS satellites.
The EDRS mission is essential for communications both with, and on, the Earth. The satellites serve as relay stations, forwarding signals from other satellites which have no line-of-sight contact with the mission-specific ground station. They also offer a near-real-time communications capability, necessary for ensuring the prompt availability of user data, for example, to Search and Rescue services. HAG-1, by contrast, is a telecommunications satellite, which provides TV services to the Spanish Peninsula, the Canary Islands and South America.
The operation of geostationary satellites is time-consuming because, due to their permanent contact with the Earth, they must be managed and controlled around the clock. Telespazio VEGA’s team already has six years of experience working with geostationary satellites and this will be used to good effect on the new missions to guarantee the vital satellite communications well into the future.
SatCom_Extension_2014 (ID 31) EN.pdf
| December 2013 |
Gaia and its first winter storm
“We have given them a computer virus; we set fire to their facility and sabotaged the prime mission control system and that was only just a small selection of problems they had to overcome.” The Gaia Simulations Officer, our colleague Joe Bush, has put the Flight Control Team under a lot of stress in the past few months. Since 2009, the team has been preparing reviews, defining precise flight operations procedures and carrying out multiple system validation tests and simulations to prepare for the launch, now set for 19 December 2013. Under the leadership of an ESA Flight Director, Gaia will be controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt.
The time of year is quite right to remember one of the most stressful simulations: Joe invented a winter storm that hit the region and “prevented” a smooth handover between the A and B team that takes care of the Gaia spacecraft around the clock, 24 hours/day. “I knew it would be a real challenge because they were already stressed by an unexpected complete reboot of the satellite after going into the so-called ‘safe mode’. But a real satellite does not care about your sleep. You have to be prepared.” Of course the team was late; the road was icy after all, but they managed to ensure recovery.
Simulations Officer Joe Bush during a simulation - Photo: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland / Jürgen Mai
“Gaia is a highly demanding mission where we need to be thoroughly prepared and operations need to be very accurate,” says Federico Di Marco, Operations Engineer and also Telespazio VEGA Deutschland employee.
For some three weeks after launch, Gaia will travel 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth to enter a Lissajous orbit around the liberation point L2 in the Sun-Earth system. The orbits around L2 are of particular interest for astronomy missions because they allow uninterrupted observation activities as Earth and sun remain more or less close together - seen from the spacecraft - and they have a very stable thermal and radiation environment.
“The L2 orbit insertion is an extremely complex manoeuvre that requires perfect timing, thorough preparation up to the most tiny detail and excellent team coordination. But Joe has prepared us well, even though some simulations were very tricky!” says Federico. Although the majority of the Flight Control Team members are from Telespazio VEGA, it is the overall teamwork between all members that will decide mission success.
To protect the highly sensitive Gaia “eyes” (the on-board instruments) during launch the solar arrays are arranged in a circular girdle around the spacecraft, unlike traditional solar arrays. “Some of my colleagues call them petals,” tells us Federico with a grin, as it sounds strange him as experienced engineer to use poetic language for a high-tech satellite.
Once in final position, Gaia will observe our galaxy by producing a high-resolution 3D map. By the end of its mission, Gaia will have observed every star 70 times on average. The Gaia survey will reveal more than the 3D map of stars alone, potentially discovering Earth threatening asteroids, new dim stars and also large numbers of planets orbiting nearby stars. The resulting 3D map is certain to fascinate a lot of people around the world – poets and scientists alike – and trigger a lot of creativity and new understanding of the evolution of our galaxy, just as it has triggered some very creative simulation scenarios!
The launch can be watched live on www.esa.int. The live web link will be communicated prior to the event.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA
Gaia on ESA website - GAIA blog - European Space Operations Centre - Satellite Operations
| December 2013 |
New Company brochure for Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
In the last year our clients and partners have experienced the creation of new Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. As a result, we are able to offer a broader range of professional services and more value to our clients.
In the same period, our mother company, Telespazio S.p.A., has taken steps to promote integration within the Group and harmonise branding. This branding underlines the international outreach of the Telespazio Group and the strong network which exists between national subsidiaries.
The result of these steps is one single, internationally recognisable logo provided to all Telespazio group companies including, of course, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.
One important part of our heritage will however not change. Our company name, which reflects almost 40 years of professional experience and our roots, will remain:
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH
The new group logo introduces consistency across all Telespazio companies and reinforces the integration taking place across the Group. It will come into use as of 1 January 2014.
There will be an interim period in which you will come across the current logo and the new one. In order to familiarise yourself with our new visual appearance we would like to introduce the new logo to you through our new company brochure which is available online.
From now on there is one strong brand for one strong Group. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on this subject or about Telespazio in general.
| November 2013 |
Space Technology for Sparkasse Dillenburg - Update with Photos
Press release - Darmstadt, 27 November 2013
Customers of the Sparkasse Dillenburg (Region of Hesse, Germany) can look forward to a new mobile branch office, which will be operational end of this year. The space company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (a Finmeccanica/Thales company) will provide the satellite connection between the mobile bank and the main office.
The catchment area of the Sparkasse Dillenburg covers many small villages and communities which do not have their own local branch. In order to be able to provide full banking services to such rural areas, Sparkasse has been using mobile branch offices for years. Mobile banks with online connection have developed since recently and represent a viable solution for rural banking needs. They are fully equipped to offer a full range of banking services to its customers, including a cash machine, a bank statement printer and a small branch office as well as PC equipment.
A reliable and secure data connection to the main office is an essential prerequisite for the provision of real-time mobile banking services. As data networks such as UMTS or LTE are not always available or reliable in rural areas, a more robust solution is needed.
Using satellite communications, even the most remote places can be reliably connected. The Sparkasse bus is equipped with an automatic satellite antenna, which can establish a secure connection to the Sparkasse Dillenburg main office within two minutes of being activated. And this can be done from anywhere in Europe. “Theoretically, the Sparkasse Dillenburg bus could travel as far as rural Spain and still have satellite reception”, remarks Dr. Karl-Heinz Walker, satellite communications specialist. “The advantage of using satellite communications is that it does not rely on any fixed locations: one only needs to be within the satellite coverage area to guarantee a connection.”
The satellite communications set up for the Dillenburger Sparkasse are not only secure and reliable: they are supported by space industry professionals. Telespazio operates its own control centre in Fucino, Italy, from which the satellites are monitored and controlled around the clock; the satellite connection can even be serviced remotely - In the future, also the connection between the main office of the Sparkasse Dillenburg and the mobile branch office. The Telespazio Group has provided a complete range of reliable, secure, encrypted satellite services across the whole of Europe for more than 20 years. This is of paramount importance for the banking sector.
The bus is custom built and the satellite connection will be set up specifically for the Sparkasse. The vehicle itself is delivered by Berger Karosserie- und Fahrzeugbau GmbH from Frankfurt, which will also install the satellite antenna along with the related electronics. Berger specialises in custom vehicles and has already equipped more than 500 customers with mobile banking buses. In the meanwhile more than half of the delivered vehicles have satellite antennas. “With Telespazio, we’re relying on the space expertise in order to serve our banking customers locally, regardless of how far away they are from the main branches. Space, automobile and banking industries - this is what you call cross-sector working!“ remarks Herr Dierk Conrad, Managing Director of Berger, as the mobile branch office is configured and installed for the Sparkasse Dillenburg.
The handover of the vehicle will take place on the Berger premises, Schmidtstraße 49, 60326 Frankfurt on 10 December 2013 between 10:00- 13:00 hrs. Press representatives are invited to join the event. Please register with Mr. Conrad at +49(0) 69 75903-0. For photos of the handover please contact Alexandra Sokolowski at email@example.com.
Photo Update 12 December 2013
Thumbnail: Copyright Sparkasse Dieburg
Photo: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH
| November 2013 |
SWARM – Aiming for the perfect constellation
It is going to be a true “Swarm” that will be launched on 22 November 2013. And the constellation of three satellites – all part of the SWARM Constellation (Swarm A, B and C) – has also been a true challenge for the Telespazio VEGA Deutschland Simulations team in the past four years.
Swarm’s aim is to provide highly precise and high-resolution measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field. For this purpose, the three satellites will fly in a constellation in three different polar orbits. All preparations for the launch and the actual operations need to be trained and tested well in advance. A team from Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has developed a Simulator for this purpose. It is being used at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt (Germany).
The Simulations team flying in constellation under the supervision of the Flight Control Team. - Photo: Sebastiaan de Stigter
“The Simulator needs to reflect the actual behaviour of the spacecraft and in this case not only one but all three of them! In addition, they have to fly in constellation. “All this needs to be simulated in parallel on one single machine that one single flight control team can control at the same time” tells us Daniele Segneri, member of the Simulation Development team. “We needed to go a step further and change our approach when building the simulator: SWARM will be the first satellite constellation developed to a new simulation standard, called SMP2, and we even had to change the infrastructure called SIMSAT. SWARM is everything but normal.” For Daniele, this is the time of most pressure. If the simulator does not reflect reality, the Flight Control team cannot be perfectly trained. And in space business, very often, you have only one chance to get it right. But the simulator is already providing good training value.
Daniele is quite confident. The Flight Operations team in Darmstadt that consists in large parts of Telespazio VEGA colleagues, among others the Simulations Officer, has supported the Simulation Developers with valuable feedback; now, the simulator is very realistic. “The cooperation has been great”, confirms also Daniele’s Telespazio VEGA Colleague from the Flight Control team, Isabelle Dauvin. The team is currently preparing for the November launch date, which had already moved several times. Isabelle cannot wait for the launch. “We are eager to start working with the real spacecraft,” she says. She knows that her work will become more challenging once the three spacecraft are in orbit and the short passes are going to keep everyone busy. “No matter what happens, we are ready to face it”, she tells us after one of the simulation sessions. “We know our procedures, our timelines and most of all, we know each other. In the end it is the good communication within the team that matters. Launch day can come!”
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland wishes the entire SWARM team a lot of success!
The launch will be live streamed on ESA Live web.
Thumbnail: Copyright ESA - P. Carril
SWARM (ESA) - ESA Satellite Operations - Ground Systems - Systems Development - Simulation Systems - Satellite Operations Services - Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in Darmstadt
| November 2013 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland expands involvement in ExoMars programme
Darmstadt, 13 November 2013
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Finmeccanica/Thales), has increased its involvement in the ExoMars mission. The company has been awarded a further Work Order by the European Space Agency (ESA) under the Ground Data Systems Frame Contract (GFC8). Following the recent contract for the ExoMars Mission Control System (MCS), Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has now been selected to develop the Operational Simulator for the ExoMars 2016 mission. The 2016 mission consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstration Module (EDM).
The ExoMars Simulator development, worth over a million Euros, started in July 2013 and will be completed within two years. The simulator will support the operations team in the testing of the ExoMars ground infrastructure, including the Mission Control System, and validation of the operational procedures and databases. Towards the launch of the mission in 2016, the simulator will serve to train the Flight Control Team through an intensive simulation campaign at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt (Germany).
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has a strong heritage in providing ground segment systems, especially for complex exploration or science missions, such as XMM Newton, Rosetta, Mars Express, Venus Express, Lisa Pathfinder, BepiColombo, and now ExoMars.
John Lewis, Director Sales & Business Development stated: “The two ExoMars Ground Segment System contracts, namely the Mission Control System and the Operational Simulator, require a very thorough understanding of complex space programs as well as the ability to develop highly reliable software systems under tight schedule constraints. We have proved many times that we possess both these capabilities, and we are delighted that ESA has entrusted us to deliver these essential elements of the ExoMars ground segment system”.
ExoMars is an exciting Mars exploration programme made possible by a large international cooperation with Roscosmos. The prime contractor responsible for the ExoMars spacecraft in Europe is Thales Alenia Space (a Thales/Finmeccanica company). The first phase of the programme involves a Mars Trace Gas Orbiter satellite to be launched in 2016 that includes an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstration Module. In a second phase, to be launched in 2018, a Mars Rover and a Surface Platform will be launched building on the experience gained through these first steps. The 2018 ExoMars rover is designed to search for traces of past and present life by collecting and analysing sub-soil samples with a drill and a powerful set of instruments. ExoMars will demonstrate new technologies that will help to pave the way for a future Mars sample return mission.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, is part of Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales 67/33 joint venture, that is one of the world’s leading operators in satellite services with activities range from the design and development of space systems to the management of launch services, from in-orbit satellite control to Earth observation, from integrated communications, satellite navigation and localisation services to scientific programmes. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland was created in 2012 from the merger of VEGA Space, established in 1978, and Telespazio Deutschland, founded in 1996. It combines the expertise and know-how acquired within the space services sector by the two companies, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland’s objective is to strengthen the Telespazio Group’s presence in Germany.
Photo: Copyright ESA
| September 2013 |
Contract renewal for cesah
Contract renewal for cesah managing the ESA Business Incubation Centre Darmstadt assures a further €4.5 million in funding and 4,800 hours of expert assistance from the ESA.
On September 11th 2013, ESA Directors Dr. Franco Ongaro and Dr. Thomas Reiter, Hessen's Economics Minister Florian Rentsch and cesah’s managing director Dr. Frank Zimmermann signed the contract renewal assuring to provide cesah with solid funding and additional ESA expertise for the period from 2014 – 2019.
The official signing event took place European Space Operations Centre ESA/ESOC and was attended by cesah shareholders, as well as some of the young entrepreneurs who took the chance to answer questions about their projects to the present regional press.
The Centre currently works with 39 start-up businesses and the contract renewal means it will be able to continue expanding its activities. cesah and its partners from the State of Hesse, City of Darmstadt, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, T-Systems International, TU Darmstadt and Hochschule Darmstadt are planning to support 10 new start-ups a year at ESA BIC Darmstadt.
Dr. Frank Zimmermann
cesah GmbH Centrum für Satellitennavigation Hessen
Tel: +49 (0)6151 39 21 56 10
| September 2013 |
Sandbox for Satellite Systems Design
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been awarded a contract "System Functional Simulations in the Concurrent Design Process" by the European Space Agency (ESA) in which a System Concept Simulator (SCS) will be developed for the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC). The simulator will support system engineers in simulation and early functional verification of current and future satellite systems in the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF)*.
The project was kicked-off in July 2013, starting with an analysis of the initial SCS requirements. Based on a consolidated system specification, Telespazio VEGA will design and implement an SCS as a CDF software tool supporting early mission design phases. Satellites, being highly complex products, go through various design iterations until all engineering, security and scientific requirements are met.
The SCS will allow system engineers and simulation experts to rapidly develop and configure simulations of new satellite systems from a generic simulator sandbox. Although dealing with a complex and dynamic system that needs to process outputs efficiently and provide a high-fidelity representation of the required data, the SCS will allow for flexible modifications of the simulated system on a day-to-day basis and provide a user-friendly interface. Thus, the SCS will be able to support the iterative design process in the CDF in an optimum way.
Through the combined knowledge of our partnering company J-CDS, being an expert on concurrent design engineering, and Telespazio VEGA’s heritage and experience in designing highly complex simulation systems, the SCS will be delivered to ESTEC in late summer 2014.
*The Concurrent Design Facility (CDF), located on ESTEC premises in Noordwijk, Netherlands, is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with a network of computers, multimedia devices and software tools, which allows a team of experts from several disciplines to apply the concurrent engineering method to the design of future space missions. It facilitates a fast and effective interaction of all disciplines involved, ensuring consistent and high-quality results in a much shorter time.
For more information about the CDF please visit the ESA official website.
Foto Copyright ESA/ESTEC
- Systems Development
- Systems Engineering
- ICT Management Services
- Studies & Research & Development
| August 2013 |
Air navigation: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland successfully concludes the project HETEREX (Heterogeneous Complex Air Traffic)
Darmstadt, 2 August 2013 - Press note
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Finmeccanica/Thales) has led the Heterogeneous Complex Air Traffic (HETEREX) joint research project to a successful conclusion. For the past three years, Telespazio VEGA provided technical input and coordinated the activities of the consortium, which involved six other Partners.
The ever-increasing level of air traffic and the corresponding increase of environmental damage, such as noise or CO2 emissions, were the driving factors for starting the research project HETEREX in January 2010. In March 2013, now that the publically-funded project has been completed, some of the benefits are flowing back to the public: although set up as a pure research project, some feasibility studies were carried out. These simplify the future commercialisation and application of new technologies. The involved project partners, that build on this are DLR (German Aerospace Centre), DFS (German Flight Safety), Funkwerk Avionics, Jeppesen, Northrop Grumman LITEF and Thales Deutschland German Aerospace.
Under the overall leadership of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, innovative improvements to flight guidance systems and processes were demonstrated, along with improvements to capacity, efficiency and the environmental sustainability of air traffic flows. Telespazio VEGA verified and validated the benefits of these improvements. Yearly user forums were held, in which future developers and users could exchange ideas about the new systems and propose improvements.
Within the scope of HETEREX, Telespazio VEGA developed, amongst other things, a simulator for the satellite-supported instrument landing system GBAS (Ground Based Augmentation System). GBAS is necessary because precision landings are not possible using GPS or another satellite navigation system alone. Within the confines of an airfield, GBAS increases the absolute precision of positional information, which for satellite-based systems, is dependent on the number and visibility of the satellites, as well as on the local geographical or topological conditions.
GBAS guarantees the reliability of the positional information. The simulator enables the early analysis and prediction of the behaviour of the GBAS landing system during nominal and difficult operational conditions, such as when the satellite signals are adversely affected by turbulence in the ionosphere.
The GBAS landing system supplements the established beacon-based instrument landing system (ILS) and in many cases can cover a larger number of runways than ILS alone. It offers increased flexibility of route guidance during the approach to landing. With this flexibility, modern approach paths can be developed which aim to minimise aircraft noise for the populations below. These noise levels can be calculated, analysed and optimised in advance using another Telespazio VEGA software application.
In the future, the GBAS simulator will be able to take into account data from other satellite navigation systems, such as Galileo. To achieve this, Telespazio VEGA’s experience with Galileo will certainly be beneficial, in particular its prime role in the development of the Galileo System Simulation Facility (GSSF) – a simulations environment which provides the function and performance behaviour of the whole Galileo system. GSSF was developed together with an international consortium under contract from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Telespazio VEGA is positioned perfectly to be able to simulate two satellite constellations (GPS and Galileo) in parallel and hence to offer the immediate benefits of its space domain expertise to the aviation industry.
Project HETEREX was funded by the German Ministry for Economy and Technology through the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) as project promoter under grant reference 20V0901A.
Further information and results can be found at www.heterex.de.
| July 2013 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland supports harmonisation of European Space Mission Infrastructure
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Finmeccanica/Thales), has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to carry out the Phase-B project for the European Ground Systems – Common Core (EGS-CC Phase B). This common core will enable European space agencies, manufacturers and developers to re-use a common infrastructure for building, developing and deploying ground segment systems throughout all mission phases and for all mission types.
The EGS-CC project is based on an agreement between ESA, European Primes and National Space Agencies to harmonise the infrastructure approach for future Mission Control Systems (MCS) and Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE). Currently, systems from various players, such as system integrators, operators and subsystem suppliers are generally incompatible, making it a challenge to re-use data or test and validation procedures. The common infrastructure aims therefore at significantly reducing cost and minimizing risks as well as supporting synergies for both the European institutions and commercial industry partners.
By the end of 2012, Phase A had already been completed and a separate activity to select the most suitable technology for the implementation of EGS-CC had been started. Phase B, which will now be carried out by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland and its partners, will include the design of the EGS-CC architecture and its interfaces. The official Kick-Off has already taken place in April 2013 and the final output of the project is planned to be delivered to ESA by May 2014. Within ESA project is managed in a common effort by experts on Ground and Space Systems Engineering from ESA Darmstadt (DE) and ESA Noordwijk (NL).
Sigmar Keller, CEO of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, highlighted especially the strength of the team that led to the contract win: “Building on our strong know-how, and strengthened by our partnering with CGI, GTD and Dutch Space, we were able to win this contract by presenting the right technical solution and an effective implementation methodology. This contract award underpins nicely our position of a leading partner for ESA for Ground Segment infrastructure development.”
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has a long heritage in developing, deploying, operating and maintaining ground segment systems. This new contract underlines ESA’s confidence in the consortium’s in-depth expertise in Ground Systems and Assembly, Integration & Verification (AIV).
EGSCC_PhaseB_2013 (ID 22) EN.pdf
| June 2013 |
Telespazio at the 50th International Paris Air Show
Telespazio, a Finmeccanica (67%) and Thales (33%) joint venture, will participate from June 17-22, 2013 at the 50th International Paris Air Show held in Le Bourget exhibition centre. Telespazio will be displaying, within the Finmeccanica Group stand, its main activities in satellite system, operations and communications, as well as applications and services in the geo-information sector. Particular focus will be on the company’s role in the Galileo, EGNOS, COSMO-SkyMed, Copernicus, and SICRAL space programmes.
In addition, within the Space section of the Finmeccanica exhibit area, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space, a Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%) joint venture, will be showing products and services developed within their Space Alliance.
In particular, in Earth Observation and Security, Telespazio will present in Paris application services offered by its subsidiaries e-GEOS (ASI/Telespazio), the German GAF, and Telespazio Ibérica. These services, which rely on the COSMO-SkyMed radar satellite constellation, are provided to European institutions through the Copernicus programme. For this programme, e-GEOS plays a role in providing emergency, Earth mapping, change detection, and maritime surveillance services. In addition, the e-GEOS Matera Space Centre will deliver to the European Space Agency (ESA) data acquisition and processing services from the first two satellites of the Sentinel constellation.
In telecommunications, Telespazio will be displaying Seonbox, an advanced multifunctional network device designed to provide constant connectivity on-board vessels. It will also be exhibiting the Flysat 960k antenna designed for operation on commercial satellites in the Ku and Ka bands and on military satellites in the X band. Telespazio will also highlight services developed for tactical military satellite communications, currently through SICRAL and in the future through ATHENA-FIDUS.
In Paris, Telespazio will also demonstrate its role in ESA’s programme for protection from space hazards known as Space Situational Awareness. In this context, Telespazio has contributed to the development of the SSA NEO (Near Earth Objects) Coordination Centre. The Centre, inaugurated last May 22 at the ESA facility in Frascati (Rome), contributes to the search of Earth-threatening asteroids, meteorites, comets, and man-made probes.
Finally, noteworthy is also Telespazio’s participation in the European Galileo global navigation satellite system. At its Fucino Space Centre, the company developed one of the mission control centres for the Galileo constellation, run by Spaceopal, a Telespazio (50%) and German Space Agency (DLR) (50%) joint venture. Telespazio participates in the development of a wide range of applications based on EGNOS and Galileo. Among these is the SENECA programme, developed by ENAV and ASI to promote EGNOS-based satellite navigation in the domestic aviation sector. The internationalization of the Telespazio Group has become a reality today with its 2,500 employees in Europe, North and South America, and a worldwide network of space centers and teleports.
In France, the company operates through its subsidiary Telespazio France, with facilities in Toulouse, Paris, and Kourou in French Guyana.
| May 2013 |
Same-same but different
After the previous photographic exhibition at the Darmstadt Office by Valeria Bozzi for the last 18 months Telespazio VEGA is proud to announce the opening of the new joint photo exhibition "Same-same but different”
Valeria Bozzi, Earth Observation Spacecraft Operations Engineer at ESOC and Sebastiaan de Stigter, Head of Business Development for the Aerospace Application division, both have a strong passion for photography. In their shared interest they joined hands at the ESOC Photo Club, which is led by Valeria. Very early on, they considered pairing works which have both analogies as well as differences on different dimensions: colour, lines, perspective, tonality, thematic content, texture, just to name a few... Here and there elements in the exhibited work will have relationships to our activities at Telespazio VEGA: space, aviation, logistics. Both works in pairs should be considered as one piece of art, whereas between the pairs there is not intentional relationship.
For more than 10 years, Valeria Bozzi has spent a lot of her free time with photography, both film and digital. During this time, she has not only developed her skills and techniques but also her enthusiasm to become one of the best. In 2010, she participated at the International Workshop for Digital Art and Photography on the occasion of the Biennale of the Museum of Chianciano, Italy. During the workshop she received 3rd price for portraiture. In 2011, she participated in an International Photography Exhibition at Villafranca Tirrena, Italy. The event and also her images were presented on the National Television in Italy. In October 2012 she was selected for a Workshop with master photographer Jane Evelyn Atwood. Valeria's work include travel photography, documentary, weddings and modelling. More on her work can be found at: www.valebphotography.com
For as long as he can remember Sebastiaan has been involved in photography. Starting off in BW film work and the wet darkroom, inevitably he embraced digital photography and the lightroom workflow. During his studies he ran a small photography business (Weddings, Event, Product photography) with his brother, which his brother still continues up to today. Sebastiaan had formal training in photographic storytelling through photojournalism courses. His self-assigned assignments to document the unseen, led to series on amongst others: social projects for handicapped people, harsh labour conditions in factories in India and the effects of rapid urbanisation at the expense of traditional housing in China. More on his work can be found at: www.destigter-photography.com
Visit the exhibition in the offices
In order that not only customers and partners who frequent the Telespazio VEGA offices regularly benefit from the exhibition, private individual or group visits can be arranged on request. Please contact Marketing
on this matter. If you are interested in getting your own prints (as single or as pair) or want to discuss/comment their work, please contact the photographers by email: Valeria (firstname.lastname@example.org
), Sebastiaan via his website (see above)
| May 2013 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland wins ExoMars Mission Control System Development Contract
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, a subsidiary of Telespazio (Finmeccanica/Thales), has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development of the ExoMars Mission Control System (MCS). The MCS will be used to monitor and control the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter satellite system orbiting Mars in 2016.
ExoMars is an exciting Mars exploration mission made possible by a large international cooperation with Roscosmos including also contributions from NASA. ExoMars is designed to search for traces of past or present life by remote sensing of the Martian environment and analysis of soil and sub-soil samples with a Rover. ExoMars will demonstrate new technologies that will help to pave the way for a future Mars sample return mission. The first phase of the mission involves a Mars Trace Gas Orbiter satellite to be launched in 2016 that includes an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstration Module. In a second phase, a Mars Rover will be launched building on the experience gained through these first steps.
The Mission Control System, that will be developed by Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, is a critical element of the programme. Through the MCS, the Mission Operations Team will monitor and control the varying space segment systems throughout the satellites lifetime. The company has more than 30 years of experience in building tailored ground segment systems for its clients – including Mission Control Systems – among other the recent MCS development for the Science Mission GAIA.
The ExoMars Mission Control System benefits from the existing ESA Science Mission kernel, which Telespazio VEGA Deutschland will extend and configure for this specific mission. New features will include the monitoring and control of the ExoMars Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstration module.
ExoMars will be controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany and the Rover will be controlled from the Advanced Logistics Technology Engineering Centre (ALTEC) in Torino Italy.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland was created in 2012 from the merger of VEGA Space, established in 1978, and Telespazio Deutschland, founded in 1996. It combines the expertise and know-how acquired within the space services sector by the two companies, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland’s objective is to strengthen the Telespazio Group’s presence in Germany
Luigi Pasquali, CEO of Telespazio, declared: “I am very pleased with this contract award for the development of the Mission Control System of ESA’s ExoMars programme, a contract that recognizes Telespazio’s core competencies at the international level. This success rewards the technological and professional excellence of Telespazio’s presence in Germany. It also confirms our strategy of developing the group's role in the space services market in this country, with Telespazio VEGA Deutschland as well as with GAF".
Sigmar Keller, CEO of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, was very pleased with the contract win: “As a full service provider of ground segments we can demonstrate through this new contract, our continued ability to deliver complex ground segment systems, ensuring quality and professionalism with our solutions”.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is a prime contractor within the current Ground Data Systems Frame contract with ESOC, which includes Mission Control Systems, Simulators, Mission Planning Systems and Ground System Infrastructure. The company has been involved with this contract and its predecessors for over 30 years.
Exomars_MCS_2013 EN 2013-05-16.pdf
Picture Copyright: ESA-D. Ducros, 2012
| May 2013 |
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland new office inauguration
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland (Finmeccanica/Thales) has moved to new offices in Gilching, near Munich, as of 2nd May 2013. The inauguration will take place on 6th June 2013. The former Gilching office is now closed down.
The new offices are located within the Aerospace business cluster at ASTO Park within walking distance of the DLR premises in Oberpfaffenhofen. Sigmar Keller, CEO of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, sees the office move as the next logical step for business growth and client relationship development “The offices are of a state-of-the-art business standard, demonstrating our ambition and commitment towards our clients and staff in the south of Germany. Fully equipped hot desks within the offices increase flexibility, so that visitors and project teams can make use of those premises any time, enabling regular exchange between the Telespazio VEGA sites.” The new facility also provides space for client meetings.
The office opening will take place on 6th June 2013 in the new offices at Friedrichshafener Straße 3, first floor, 82205 Gilching at 15:30 hrs.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, with headquarters in Darmstadt, has a strong presence in South Germany. More than 70 employees work at the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC), the German Galileo Control Center at DLR premises in Oberpfaffenhofen the Weilheim Ground Station and at SpaceOpal in Munich. Telespazio VEGA has been settled in Gilching for more than 30 years.
Through the recent merger between Telespazio Deutschland and VEGA Space into Telespazio VEGA Deutschland in September 2012, the company has grown considerably and has developed its offering to a complete portfolio for satellite ground segments.
Press representatives are invited to join the inauguration event. Please register until 29th May with
+49 (0)6151 8257-764
Gilching Office move 2013-05-07 EN.pdf
| December 2012 |
Helping together - Telespazio VEGA Deutschland donates twice to the Food Banks
This year, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is again donating to the Food Bank. The
Food Banks at our Headquarter‘s site Darmstadt and our office site in Gilching will
receive a total donation of 1800,-€.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland donated for the first time to the Food Bank last year
and is now continuing this tradition. Because of the merger between Telespazio
Deutschland and VEGA Space GmbH into Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH in
December 2012 another site was added to the company which has also a Food
Bank. As one joint company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is pleased to support the
respective Food Banks at its company sites.
The contribution reflects the traditions of both former companies: Telespazio
Deutschland can look back at a long-standing donation tradition at the Christmas
season which, this year, is for the benefit of the Gilching Food Bank. In the former
VEGA Space GmbH, staff have also actively collected money in a company internal
tombola in Darmstadt.
As last year, Sigmar Keller, Managing Director of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland,
was very pleased about the dedication and the positive reactions from staff. “Here we
can actually see that the donation is being received. The joint donation shows also
that we are one company with one consistent philosophy and nevertheless regional
connections with our sites play a big role.”
Donation Food Bank 2012 (ID 16) English.pdf
| September 2012 |
The creation of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland: Lift-off to joint operations
Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales company, announced today the successful completion of the merger of VEGA Space GmbH and Telespazio Deutschland GmbH into the new company Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH.
As the name suggests, this was a merger amongst equals, combining the heritage and good names of both companies within one organisation. After completion of this merger the German Telespazio Group is striving to deliver 70 M€ of business in 2012 through its two principal companies GAF AG and Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH, building on the passion for the business and the skills of more than 550 employees.
Carlo Gualdaroni, CEO of Telespazio, commented: The completion of the integration of the two companies into the new Telespazio VEGA Deutschland represents another step in the process of streamlining Telespazio's international operations, and will be a key element for our growth in Germany in the space services market”.
The responsibility for building up the new organisation and to develop a top brand within our chosen markets lies with Sigmar Keller (CEO), Yves Constantin (COO) and John Lewis (Sales and Business Development), in close coordination with Peter Volk, Head of the German Telespazio Group companies. All of them are having long standing experience within their respective organisations and are fully committed to the success of the transition process and the new company.
“The rationale for the combination of the businesses was quite obvious,” said Sigmar Keller after the merger ceremony in the combined Telespazio VEGA Deutschland office. “Together we can become a strong business partner with integrated service offerings for our clients in Europe and worldwide”. The joint capabilities in providing systems engineering solutions and manpower to main clients like ESOC and EUMETSAT are also issues, that Yves Constantin considers a clear benefit: “Through the merger we can provide sustainability and job security for our employees and become an even more attractive employer in our competitive markets.”
The joint presence also show in other areas: Telespazio Deutschland is strongly established in the German Space Centre (GSOC) of Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria since 1983. VEGA, on the other hand, is strongly established at ESA since 34 years, both in the Systems Engineering and Ground System development areas. Both companies are present at EUMETSAT, but in different areas, therefore the merged company can offer our operational staff greater support, better perspectives and stronger commercial impact. These synergies will without a doubt boost the operational strength and create value for private and public clients through pragmatic innovation. Not to forget that there is also access to Europe’s best placed private Ground Station network operated by our parent company in Italy.
| July 2012 |
A little summer donation
Darmstadt, 19 July 2012 – VEGA Space’s staff proved last week that donating does not have to be related to a particular time of the year. Christian Schmidt, Head of ICT, had initiated a tombola for a charity purpose.
“We were sorting out old laptops and computers and were thinking about what to do with them”, said Christian Schmidt. “Instead of the normal disposal strategy for old appliances we wanted to achieve something good this time. The positive feedback on the Christmas Donation in 2011 inspired us to introduce the idea of the tombola.”
Approximately 50 % of staff located in Darmstadt participated in the tombola. The winners donated money for each laptop and computer that they won and contributed also, apart from the tombola, to the donation. A total sum of 775,-€ was collected, which was handed over to the chairman of the Darmstadt Food Bank, Gert Wentrup, at a personal meeting on 18 July 2012.
“We did not expect so many people to participate. This shows that we have a lot of committed staff in our international company that want to get involved in local charity. This was not our last tombola.”
| March 2012 |
Service contract for the German Space Situational Awareness Centre awarded to VEGA Space
Darmstadt, 26 March 2012 – VEGA Space GmbH has been awarded a contract by the German Armed Forces to deliver hardware and software components for the German Space Situational Awareness Centre. The scope of work includes training courses on the configuration and the usage of the integrated system and its software.
The interdisciplinary team from VEGA will design and implement the system as well as configure it to fulfil the user’s requirements by July 2012. The basis and core of the system will be a space objects data catalogue, which combines data from different sources such as the space objects catalogue DISCOS (Database and Information System Characterizing Objects in Space) of the European Space Agency.
The training for the staff of the German Space Situational Awareness Centre on the partially automated system will thus be supported by the European Space Agency as well as VEGA’s partner company Analytical Graphics Inc. and the Technical University Braunschweig. After completing the training, the staff will be able to deliver analyses and reports on collision risk, prediction for re-entry of space objects and the impact of space weather.
The German Space Situational Awareness Centre is located in Uedem in the northwest of Germany, from where it delivers reports and information to the German Armed Forces.
„This is an important contract in a new military space program and is therefore a milestone for VEGA” states John Lewis, Managing Director of VEGA Space in Germany. The Darmstadt, Germany based aerospace company has more than 30 years’ experience in civil and military aerospace programs. The experience and expertise within the company in the defence sector as well as in space missions, ground segments, satellite operations and control is well reflected in the variety of tasks to be performed for the Space Situational Awareness Centre. John Lewis concludes: “With VEGA the German Armed Forces have selected a strong partner to achieve the current and future goals of the space situational awareness and related programs.”
For more information please contact Alexandra Sokolowski on email@example.com
| February 2012 |
Photo exhibition for the Europahaus office
Darmstadt, 8th February 2012 - Since the beginning of February, eleven new and exceptional works of art have pride of place in the VEGA offices – a photography exhibition by Valeria Bozzi, who normally works as Spacecraft Operations Engineer for VEGA, but in her free time is very passionate about photography.
The exhibition shows places around the world which have a story to tell. Valeria has her own view on her artwork. “The photos show mostly places in the world that are commonly known, but often reduced to stereotypes. Many people do not look far from the main tourist attractions and miss the beauty of the moment. I believe sometimes the soul of a place can be described by a simple detail or even just its colours.”
For more than 10 years, Valeria Bozzi has spent a lot of her free time with photography, both film and digital. During this time, she has not only developed her skills and techniques but also her enthusiasm to become one of the best. In 2010, she participated at the International Workshop for Digital Art and Photography on the occasion of the Biennale of the Museum of Chianciano, Italy. During the workshop she received 3rd prize for portraiture. In 2011, she participated in an International Photography Exhibition at Villafranca Tirrena, Italy. The event and also her images were presented on the National Television in Italy.
John Lewis, Managing Director of VEGA, is very pleased with the outcome of the project. “The pictures we used previously were all right but they were very impersonal. Valeria’s pictures send a special message to our own staff and visitors alike. They show that we are not only experts in aerospace engineering, but that we are also talented and creative in more artistic domains. The exhibition is great for both VEGA and Valeria. We have beautiful pictures on our walls and Valeria has the opportunity to showcase her work.”
VEGA is in fact keen in supporting initiatives that promote employees personal talents and at the same time improve life within the company. Other examples are the participation at the “Bike to work” initiative, the Pfungstadt Triathlon or the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Run.
In order that not only customers and partners who frequent the VEGA offices regularly benefit from the exhibition, private individual or group visits can be arranged on request. Please contact Marketing on this matter.
More on Valeria Bozzi and her photography can be found on her website
. If you are interested in getting your own print, please write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Thanks for the support in printing the photos go also to Fotogena Photo Service
| January 2012 |
25 years of Quality
Darmstadt - 18th January 2012 - And the Quality Manager at VEGA Space GmbH is already planning the next 25 years. VEGA first introduced their Quality Management System in 1987. Since 1994, this has been certified under the ISO 9001 norm. So this is not only an anniversary but also evidence of how seriously VEGA, for a quarter of a century, has been taking the quality of the services provided to clients like the European Space Agency or EUMETSAT.
Within this time the Quality Management System has grown with the company: What started as a simple accumulation of work instructions for engineering services, today represents all business processes which have been adapted to the respective business areas and clients over the years. Today the Quality Management System contains also processes in the consulting area and reflects client standards from the Aerospace and Defence market.
According to the ISO 9001 norm, which constitutes a worldwide standard for service processes, the QMS needs to ensure a consistent, reliable quality of products and services and to define processes, structures and authorities. Customer orientation is always the top priority.
The ISO 9001 norm requires the compliance of seven further quality criteria, among others integration of the management, of the staff, a continuous improvement of the QMS, taking into account the complex interdependencies between processes as well as objective criteria in decision-making. As a company of the IT sector, VEGA follows the TickIT Catalogue which facilitates companies with the interpretation and implementation of the ISO 9001 norm.
Sigmar Keller, Managing Director or VEGA, therefore vouches for the QMS with conviction: “These days, for one’s business proposals to even be considered, it is fundamentally necessary to be certified under ISO. The fact that VEGA introduced a QMS in the same year as the ISO norm was published shows that we were following the same guiding idea since day one”.
VEGA’s commitment, however, reaches even further: As an international company, also country-specific regulations of the services sector need to be considered, for example, German, English or French law. Since VEGA belongs to the Telespazio Group, directives of the group as well as those from the parent company, Finmeccanica, were integrated into VEGA’s quality requirements. For next year, VEGA is planning to achieve certification under the TickIT Plus scheme. This enhancement also measures the maturity of a QMS, since the simple accumulation of processes is no longer sufficient; what counts today, is the adoption of the processes by employees throughout the organisation.
“The exciting aspect of the QMS is that it changes permanently,” stated Christine Dingeldey, Quality Manager at VEGA. “We have already won and executed many contracts for complex simulation systems. However, since our Space industry clients require a different approach than our clients from the Defence sector, we always have the new opportunities to re-orientate ourselves towards the customer and adapt to the market.”
In February 2012, VEGA will undergo the re-certification to ISO 9001 which takes place every three years. For VEGA, this is one more step towards achieving 25 years of ISO certification.
| December 2011 |
You can’t eat paper – VEGA Space donates to the Darmstadt Food Bank
Darmstadt, 6th December 2011 – This year, VEGA is not going to send Christmas Cards to customers but will donate the money instead to the Darmstadt Food Bank. This way, the Aerospace Company brings a smile and provides support where it is really needed. The donation of €1000 will support the Food Bank by covering its fixed costs, such as rent, transport or administration.
The Darmstadt Food Bank
is a charity association that provides people in need with food. On weekdays it offers warm meals to 60 - 80 people. Once per week, up to 360 people can have access to free groceries from the Food Bank for a symbolic amount of two Euros. The groceries are mostly donated from supermarkets, food retail markets, canteens, restaurants and bakery shops – groceries that are still consumable but are often thrown away.
The 40 voluntary helpers work in many areas: At the meal and food counter that is open three times per week, in administration or logistics. Only through donations from individuals and supporting companies is the Food Bank able to cover their high monthly expenditures for rent, transport and administration.
“It was important for us to work with a regional organisation. Here we can see that the help reaches those in need,” Sigmar Keller, Managing Director at VEGA Space said at the meeting with chairwoman of the board of the Darmstadt Food Bank, Doris Kappler. According to Keller, the decision to donate to charity was made also with regard to the changed communication culture in the sector. “We are essentially software engineers. Therefore, we would rather communicate electronically with our customers and take care of relations personally. Despite the renouncement of Christmas Cards, we wanted instead to do a good deed with a direct, personal and positive effect. “
This small gesture during Christmas Time is our way of expressing that VEGA Space GmbH is linked to its region and takes its social responsibility as employer seriously – You can't eat paper after all.
For further information, please contact Marketing
| November 2011 |
VEGA hosts first Suborbital Space Access workshop
Darmstadt, 11th November 2011 - VEGA Space hosted SubSpace 2011, a one-day workshop about suborbital microgravity science opportunities.
SubSpace 2011 brought together leaders of the European Space Industry to address current microgravity research trends and their potential to utilise a new generation of suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (sRLV).
The purpose of the workshop was to discuss ways to break the current paradigm of microgravity research, which is limited by few flight opportunities and high costs, by utilising new capabilities that will deliver more frequent and affordable access to suborbital space.
Beneficial for all participants
Dr. Olympia Kyriopoulos of VEGA Space chaired the event while representatives from three of the leading sRLV ventures – Neil Milburn of Armadillo Aerospace, Colin Ake of Masten Space Systems and Andrew Nelson of XCOR Aerospace – presented details of their vehicles. In addition, Garrett Smith, Cosmica Spacelines’ Founder, President and COO, discussed flight opportunities offered by Cosmica Spacelines, who plan to provide European based flights aboard the XCOR Lynx.
Presentations then followed from four of the leading visionaries from the science research community, along with observers from both government institutions and industry:
The researchers included Prof. Dr. Jürgen Blum of the Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics (TU Braunschweig), Prof. Dr. Ralf Stannarius of Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Prof. Dr. Oliver Ullrich from the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich and Dr. Matthias Sperl from the Institute of Materials Physics in Space at DLR.
All presentations sparked interest amongst the invited representatives from DLR - Microgravity Research and Life Science, Dr. Rainer Kuhl, the Programme Manager of Physical Sciences as well as Project Manager Dr. Otfried Joop - who agreed that sRLV broaden the current microgravity platform portfolio. Dr. Ulrike Friedrich, Project and Program Management of DLR Parabolic Flights also emphasized the diverse potential of the various platforms.
Business leaders included Carlo Albanese, Scientific Programs Head of Telespazio S.p.A. and Ludger Fröbel, Technical Authority from Astrium GmbH Space Transportation, who issued statements about commercial space flights and future research possibilities and confirmed the idea of a real opportunity.
VEGA paves the path for future research opportunities
VEGA also presented their concept for brokering sRLV services to enable European institutes and industry to gain access to these paradigm breaking flight opportunities, which was very well received by the research community.
The workshop concluded with a round-table discussion that addressed a short series of questions designed to assess the desire to take advantage of these upcoming opportunities and the best ways to proceed. “SubSpace 2011 exceeded our expectations. Although most of the participants knew each other before the workshop, the participation of the platform providers gave an added dimension and there was a definite feeling of something new in the air,” John Lewis, Managing Director at VEGA Space, summarized the results of the day.
How it all began
VEGA has been closely following the developments in space and launcher technology for many years. Through the community and network that evolved around VEGA, the team in Darmstadt noticed at a very early stage that many experimenters conduct research and consistently demonstrate the need and value of experimenting in a microgravity environment. The potential of microgravity research is currently limited by the costs and effort required to access this environment. The ways to achieve microgravity are diverse and each offers a very different service and cost profile. One common theme among all classic facilities that provide microgravity has been their connection to government programmes and an elaborate infrastructure.
A new idea is born
Suborbital Space Access is being driven by commercial enterprise, aiming to provide more flexible, efficient and competitive way to access microgravity. New commercial space access providers are focusing their initial efforts on suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (sRLV) instead of orbital RLV, mainly because they require significantly less funding and because they can be developed and tested more quickly.
VEGA Space is working with a number of the leading providers, in order to be able to offer customers a range of different options. VEGA Space will help researchers choose the right vehicle for their experiment, considering all aspects of a successful flight. Researchers now have the opportunity to take the maximum advantage of these new capabilities.