Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting European Human Spaceflight ever since the late 90s for a number of clients and locations. Our services range from Payload Operations & Engineering, Astronaut Training Services to Software Solutions.

 

The Columbus module is Europe’s space laboratory on board the International Space Station. From the Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC) located in Oberpfaffenhofen at the German Aerospace Centre DLR, the Flight Control Team commands, controls and coordinates operations of European payloads and the laboratory’s systems.

Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is heavily involved in the Operations of Col-CC, among others

  • Operations Engineering
  • Subsystems Engineering for Ground Control
  • 24/7 Network Operations Services
  • Administration support to ISS Mission Integration & Operations
  • ISS Operations Support to facilitate the ongoing maintenance of ground segment systems

The European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne is the home base for all European astronauts and a centre of excellence for astronaut training. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland provides a variety of support activities throughout the astronaut training lifecycle, in order to prepare ground support personnel and astronauts for a mission and optimise their condition for the real flight. Our service teams cover the following disciplines, among others:

  • Instructional System Design
  • Crew training and simulations
  • Instructor training and certification
  • IT Support
  • Training Administration

Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has developed the Astronaut Training Database (ATD) for the European Astronaut Centre. This online end-to-end training system has been in use ever since the late nineties. It enables a standardised way to develop training, to track Astronaut and instructor certification and to provide maximum transparency throughout the development process of the training. With astronaut training being highly dependent on international collaboration, the ATD allows teams worldwide to work concurrently on centralised data.

The Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC) at DLR in Cologne is the largest European User Support Operations Centre (USOC) supporting the execution of scientific experiments on-board the Columbus module. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting MUSC with the conduct of operations and engineering tasks for over 20 years, also including real-time operations shift support.

In the future, we will want to operate remote planetary landers and robots from manned orbiting space stations. This will be a lot easier than having to remotely control them from far away here on Earth.

An example is for instance a rover on Mars controlled by a manned vehicle in orbit above Mars. Communication and interaction with that rover will be a lot more efficient than controlling from earth, and we could even envisage bi-lateral control and total immersive telepresence.

METERON

Meteron Final (Multi-User End-To-End Robotic Operations Network) is an ISS-based experiment approach and architecture that will validate end-to-end robotic operations of planetary landers controlled from a manned station in orbit. The programme is an international collaboration comprising ESA, NASA, DLR, Roskosmos and led by ESA. One of the goals is to operate landers on Earth from the ISS to prove the concept and technology behind it. Novel communications techniques such as DTN (Delay Tolerant Network) are being used as part of the experiment.

Plug and Play

Telespazio VEGA has been developing the METERON Operations Environment (MOE) for ESA/ESOC. The MOE is a ‘plug and play’ operations environment to exercise operational scenarios. It comprises the data systems to support the METERON operations on Ground and simulates elements of the configuration that are not available. This presents realistic conditions to the experiment team to monitor the execution of scenarios.

Made for Astronauts

One critical element of the programme is executing real experiments with Astronauts on the ISS. Strong constraints apply since software on-board the ISS need to undergo a long validation and qualification process, time with Astronauts is very limited due to their busy schedules, and communication network toward the ISS are very restricted. To make up for this, the MOE allows running with a simulated orbiter on ground to allow monitoring of operational scenario experiments when connection with the ISS is not available. The simulation provides realistic interfacing (data rates, delay and latency, data structures) as if it were the actual station communicating with the robotic system.

GSTVI software environment used by Telespazio VEGA to create the MOE is the innovative plug and play infrastructure called GSTVi (Ground System Test and Validation Infrastructure).

Test, test and test

GSTVi is an ESA toolkit, developed by Telespazio VEGA, which enables testing of ground segment systems. Each element of the ground segment can be ‘plugged-in’ and tested either stand-alone (with simulated elements for the other systems), or in a complete configuration with the other elements included. The system provides a set of simulation models which can be customised for specific missions and allows simulation of the complete telecommand and telemetry chain from the Mission Control System (MCS) to the spacecraft and vice versa. In the early phases of new missions, there is often the need to have a system, with limited effort and investment, allowing validation and checking of the suitability of innovative operation concepts, new technologies and protocols.

Following the protocol

GSTVi is perfect for the METERON MOE as it already provides certain simulated elements, which are needed for the MOE (such as the MCS element). It includes standard CCSDS spacelink and ground communications protocol, and it provides a DTN protocol implementation. GSTVi represents a very powerful system, which can be easily extended in order to allow validation of operations concepts, and to test novel communications protocols, such as those being used in the METERON programme.

Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the European Human Spaceflight programme through its payload engineering management services for Thales Alenia Space in Turin (Italy), used for the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) on board the ISS.

The Fluid Science Laboratory is a multiuser facility designed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for conducting fluid physics research in microgravity. It can be operated as a fully automatic or semiautomatic facility and can be controlled on-board by the International Space Station (ISS) crew or from the ground in tele-science mode.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle was Europe’s cargo spacecraft to perform supply missions to the International Space Station. It was actively used between 2008 and 2014.

Within the ATV programme, Telespazio VEGA provided a number of services to the ESA team co-located the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) based at the French Space Agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). These services included ATV operations, ground segment engineering and flight dynamics support

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