Bright Ascension’s latest GenerationOne flight software deployment launched on yesterday’s resupply launch to the International Space Station.

Along with thousands of kilograms of supplies for the space station was IOD-1 GEMS, the first spacecraft in the Satellite Applications Catapult’s (SAC) In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) programme. Integrated by Clyde Space in Glasgow, Scotland, IOD-1 GEMS is to demonstrate Orbital Micro System’s (OMS) new weather observation payload.

IOD-1 GEMS is running a flight software suite developed by Bright Ascension using our GenerationOne Flight Software Development Kit (FSDK), and will communicate with the Bright Ascension Mission Control Software (MCS) running at the SAC groundstation in Harwell, England.

The GenerationOne FSDK has enabled the complex flight software to be developed quickly and effectively, making use of the heritage of Bright Ascension’s component library. We added new components for fulfilling the unique payload handling, data storage and data downlink requirements of the IOD-1 GEMS mission:

  • Handling of multiple data streams to provide a complete payload data package for use by the OMS team on the ground. This critical mission functionality required integration with many parts of the spacecraft bus, but was made simple by GenerationOne’s component-based architecture.
  • Storage and retrieval of large quantities of payload data. Like many CubeSat missions, IOD-1 GEMS needs to store payload data in the time between acquisition and downlink. GenerationOne provides many options for data storage, and designing the datastore using preexisting patterns and service interfaces sped up development substantially. This in turn unlocked early testing of an engineering model on the bench, before final flight model subsystems were available.
  • Downlink of data via high-speed S-band radio. Taking advantage of lessons learned from the SeaHawk-1 mission, we were able to quickly bring up a CCSDS compliant downlink with remarkably low CPU usage on the onboard computer.

Besides the advantages conferred during the mission’s development phase, using Gen1 and the MCS also provide flexibility in planning and operations as IOD-1 GEMS progresses through its life on orbit. OMS and SAC can have confidence that the integrated space system can deliver against many different operational requirements, using the substantial automation features built in to both the ground and flight software.

IOD-1 GEMS is to be deployed from the ISS in the coming months, and Bright Ascension look forward to assisting the SAC and OMS teams with a smooth commissioning process, and to hearing of the precision weather data OMS’s payload promises to deliver!

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