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Lowering the cost of satellite operations

21 Sep 2006

A new automation software tool developed through a project supported by ESA Telecom will enable satellite operators to decrease operator workload and lead to significant cost savings.

The project, called APEX (Automated Procedure EXecution) comes from the United Kingdom based company SciSys Ltd. The software allows the automation of both spacecraft operations procedures and pre-launch satellite check-out procedures. APEX is designed to be portable, distributed and scalable to any mission type, from checkout for a single payload instrument to mission operations for entire satellite fleets or constellations.

SciSys has actively promoted APEX in the operations and check-out markets by presenting papers at major conferences such as the recently completed SpaceOps 2006. The company has conducted extensive market analyses and expects substantial interest in their software.

As APEX is scalable it is appropriate for use with large fleets of GEO positioned satellites as well as with small low cost telecom satellites. Furthermore, Navigation, Science and Earth Observation missions can also benefit from using APEX. It is not costly and is easy to integrate and configure.


SpaceOps 2006

Solutions for industry
APEX is providing organisations such as Eumetsat and EADS-Astrium with expanded automation of satellite operations and check-out. It is easily integrated with mission control and EGSE systems such as ESA's SCOS-2000 and supports execution of PLUTO procedures. APEX is designed to be scalable to support multi-satellites, distributable on multiple clients and servers and, as it is implemented in Java, runs on Windows and Linux platforms and has no third party software licenses.


Graphic Procedure Editor

Extensive discussions with users of existing editor tools made it clear that a Graphical Procedure Editor (image left) was needed. This editor is highly interactive and employs a simplified drag and drop approach (image left).

The graphical Procedure Execution Display allows an operator to monitor the progress of multiple procedures from a single work station, presenting the same graphical view as seen in the editor. A history archive allows previously executed procedures to be easily retrieved. APEX's open architecture allows it to be integrated with other systems such as schedule execution, configuration management and user permissions.

In late 2005, system testing of APEX for the EUMETSAT Satellite Control Centre was successfully completed. Eumetsat are now validating APEX and their Operations Procedures for the MSG-1 geostationary meteorological satellite (image right).

SciSys won a contract from EADS-Astrium GmbH for the Galileo Avionics EGSE. APEX will be used to automate the testing of the Galileo Avionics subsystem and to validate the operations procedures.


MSG-1

To read more about APEX click under related links at the top-right of this page.

All images SciSys


Last Update: 17 Nov 2006
 
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