Session

Technical Session 3: Year in Review

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

On January 31, 2019, the CubeSat Assessment and Test (CAT) mission deployed from the International Space Station (ISS). The primary objective of the CAT mission is to use two COTS 3U spacecraft to support a communications experiment. CAT completed its primary mission success objectives in two months and continues to collect mission data two years post-launch. After meeting the mission objectives, the focus shifted to increasing data return from the payloads on the two spacecraft with the CAT team working to evolve the mission to continue to maximize its payload data return.

During its initial conception and design, the team at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), along with the spacecraft provider, Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) have performed a wide range of tasks to increase operational availability and provide more operational data. Early activities included APL management and oversight of the development of the two 3U spacecraft. During this period, APL selected the Innoflight SCR-100 radio to be used on the standard BCT XB1 bus to provide increased robustness, uplink and downlink hardware encryption, and an increased (2Mbps) downlink data rate. Early engineering choices included the decision to transition from the COSMOS-based BCT ground control system to the APL L3 InControl ground system. This provided the mission with a wealth of automated tools used by all APL-led operations, including an APL-developed automated planning and commanding technology called SciBox, as well as heritage ground scripts for “lights-out” operations via the APL Satellite Communications Facility (SCF). Post-deployment from the ISS, autonomous operations using both on-board functionality as well as autonomous ground operations, allowed the CAT operations team to continue to optimize data return by maximizing spacecraft and ground system “down time”. Most recently, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was used to augment the number of ground entry points to provide addition operational data and a new end to end capability with the usage of the AWS Cloud Data Platform. This paper discusses JHU/APL’s experience building, integrating, and operating this small sat mission as well as the operational approaches planned pre-launch and those developed post-launch for the CAT mission.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 10th, 10:00 AM

The Cubesat Assessment and Test (CAT) Program - Missions Operations Evolution

Utah State University, Logan, UT

On January 31, 2019, the CubeSat Assessment and Test (CAT) mission deployed from the International Space Station (ISS). The primary objective of the CAT mission is to use two COTS 3U spacecraft to support a communications experiment. CAT completed its primary mission success objectives in two months and continues to collect mission data two years post-launch. After meeting the mission objectives, the focus shifted to increasing data return from the payloads on the two spacecraft with the CAT team working to evolve the mission to continue to maximize its payload data return.

During its initial conception and design, the team at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), along with the spacecraft provider, Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) have performed a wide range of tasks to increase operational availability and provide more operational data. Early activities included APL management and oversight of the development of the two 3U spacecraft. During this period, APL selected the Innoflight SCR-100 radio to be used on the standard BCT XB1 bus to provide increased robustness, uplink and downlink hardware encryption, and an increased (2Mbps) downlink data rate. Early engineering choices included the decision to transition from the COSMOS-based BCT ground control system to the APL L3 InControl ground system. This provided the mission with a wealth of automated tools used by all APL-led operations, including an APL-developed automated planning and commanding technology called SciBox, as well as heritage ground scripts for “lights-out” operations via the APL Satellite Communications Facility (SCF). Post-deployment from the ISS, autonomous operations using both on-board functionality as well as autonomous ground operations, allowed the CAT operations team to continue to optimize data return by maximizing spacecraft and ground system “down time”. Most recently, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was used to augment the number of ground entry points to provide addition operational data and a new end to end capability with the usage of the AWS Cloud Data Platform. This paper discusses JHU/APL’s experience building, integrating, and operating this small sat mission as well as the operational approaches planned pre-launch and those developed post-launch for the CAT mission.