Automation of Operation and Testing for European Space Agency's OPS-SAT Mission

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Sähkötekniikan korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Space Robotics and Automation
Degree programme
Erasmus Mundus Space Master
81 + 49
This thesis presents a solution for mission operation automation in European Space Agency's (ESA) OPS-SAT mission. To achieve this, the ESA internal mission automation system (MATIS) in combination with the mission control software (SCOS) are used. They control the satellite and all ground peripherals and programmes to enable fully automated and unsupervised satellite passes. The goal of this work is the transition from the existing manual operation, with a human operator watching over and controlling all systems, to an automated system. This system supports the operation engineer and replaces the operator himself. A large section of this thesis consists of the setup, configuration, integration of all programmes and virtual machines and testing of the MATIS software, as well as the Service Management Framework (SMF) which connects MATIS to non-MATIS applications like SCOS. During testing, a lot of problems could be identified, not only OPS-SAT specific ones, but also general problems applying to all missions that consider using MATIS for future operation automation. These findings and bugs discovered during testing are reported to the responsible authorities and presented in this work. Further features of this thesis are the elaborations of the mission operation automation concept and the satellite pass concept, providing an in-depth view of the automation and passes of OPS-SAT as well as the general concepts and thoughts, which can be used by other missions to accelerate integration. An additional key feature of this thesis is the newly developed standard for operation notation in Excel, which has been achieved in close cooperation with the operation engineer. Furthermore, to accelerate the process of switching from manual to automated procedures, several converters have been developed iteratively with the new standard. These converters allow fast transformation from Excel to the procedure programming language called PLUTO used by MATIS. Not only do the results and converters of this work accelerate the procedure integration by 80%, they also deliver a more stable mission automation system that can be used by other missions as well. Operation automation reduces the operational costs for satellites and space missions significantly, as well as reducing the human error to a minimum. Therefore, this thesis is the first step towards a future with complete automation in the area of satellite operations. Without this automation, future satellite cluster configurations, like Starlink from SpaceX, will not be possible to put into practice, due to their high complexity, exceeding the comprehensibility and reaction time of humans.
Kallio, Esa
Thesis advisor
Evans, David
operation automation, OPS-SAT, European Space Agency, automation concept, MATIS, space mission
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