Session

Technical Session 12: Constellation Missions

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

In order to maintain the world’s largest Earth Observation satellite constellation and its goal of providing daily Earth coverage, Planet procures regular launch opportunities, each including up to several dozens of new satellites. Commissioning these batches of satellites, known at Planet as “flocks”, from deployment until imaging is done by a small team of operators and depends heavily on a number of automated workflows developed at Planet. Bringing all satellites to production in a safe and timely manner has a direct link to the productivity of the entire fleet. The main bottleneck during commissioning is ground station access time with the satellites, which are concentrated close to one another on-orbit after launch. To circumvent this, it is key to develop a solution that optimizes the number of contacts needed per satellite and distributes the available accesses effectively. Through the power of automation, Planet has been able to develop a commissioning process that can support a large number of satellites at any given time progressing in parallel through the different phases of commissioning, creating a fast, efficient, and safe commissioning workflow. This paper will present an overview of how Planet commissions new Super Dove satellites, the automated solutions and improvements implemented overtime, and on-orbit results and lessons learned from the most recent commissioning campaigns: Vega VV16 (Flock 4V), Electron “In Focus” (Flock 4EP) and SpaceX Transporter-1 (Flock 4S).

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 11th, 2:00 PM

Automated Fleet Commissioning Workflows at Planet

Utah State University, Logan, UT

In order to maintain the world’s largest Earth Observation satellite constellation and its goal of providing daily Earth coverage, Planet procures regular launch opportunities, each including up to several dozens of new satellites. Commissioning these batches of satellites, known at Planet as “flocks”, from deployment until imaging is done by a small team of operators and depends heavily on a number of automated workflows developed at Planet. Bringing all satellites to production in a safe and timely manner has a direct link to the productivity of the entire fleet. The main bottleneck during commissioning is ground station access time with the satellites, which are concentrated close to one another on-orbit after launch. To circumvent this, it is key to develop a solution that optimizes the number of contacts needed per satellite and distributes the available accesses effectively. Through the power of automation, Planet has been able to develop a commissioning process that can support a large number of satellites at any given time progressing in parallel through the different phases of commissioning, creating a fast, efficient, and safe commissioning workflow. This paper will present an overview of how Planet commissions new Super Dove satellites, the automated solutions and improvements implemented overtime, and on-orbit results and lessons learned from the most recent commissioning campaigns: Vega VV16 (Flock 4V), Electron “In Focus” (Flock 4EP) and SpaceX Transporter-1 (Flock 4S).