The Satellite Application Catapult is developing a standalone Operations Centre at its headquarters on the Harwell campus in Oxford, UK.
The Operations Centre intends to offer cost-effective support for satellite flight operations, payload data processing, and preparing satellite technology for market-readiness; this provides the UK with its own ground control facility, a unique step in giving the UK a sovereign capability, especially in Earth Observation (EO).
The UK’s capabilities in the management and exploitation of EO data for tackling climate change and for the rapidly emerging field of security applications (including environmental and food security, security of space-based services, etc) is reinforced with the establishment of the Catapult Operations Centre. The Operations Centre is also capable of operating a variety of missions such as the TechDemoSat (TDS) satellites, Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), and European and UK bilateral missions.
The Operations Centre offers:
- The ability to monitor and control SSTL and CCSDS-compliant missions.
- An interface to connect to SLE compliant ground stations.
- The capability to download, process, archive, and disseminate payload data and products.
- Proven software components that can be used for future missions and can be designed to optimise customisations required for new missions.
- A virtualised service and thin client environment for flexibility in operations and scalability for multiple missions.
AEON was tasked to assess and audit the Satellite Application Catapult’s existing infrastructure in preparation for their first end-user to use the Operations Centre. This mission is intended to demonstrate technology for tracking, capturing and de-orbiting space junk.
The Operations Centre needs to be a versatile and adaptable facility, able to respond to its end-user’s needs which will likely vary from one mission to the next; consequently, the infrastructure has to be adaptable enough to cope with differing requirements. This is especially pertinent when considering aspects of Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM).
AEON were contracted to arm the Catapult with knowledge of industrial RAM practices, defining the typical workflow and outputs and how these interact with end-user needs, ultimately to provide the Operations Centre operatives with the ability to quickly assess the fitness-for-purpose of the Operations Centre’s capabilities and the needs of the end-user; this in turn, allows for rational and justified decision making at the design and engineering levels. This type of driven assessment assures that the stringent performance demands of each future mission are fully realised by the facility.
Following an on-site walkover and several workshops with Operations Centre engineers, AEON delivered an Equipment Breakdown Structure (EBS), and a Functional Breakdown Structure (FBS). Collectively, these articles can be used to link the capability of the facility (EBS) with the functional demands of the end-user (FBS).
Furthermore, AEON were able to prescribe the next steps in performing a comprehensive RAM analysis which would assure that the Operations Centre would be sufficiently reliable and available throughout the most demanding of missions. We also suggested that the Operations Centre adopt standards requirement elicitation practices and interface controls to further reinforce the fitness-for-purpose between the facility and the prospective mission.
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