Open Source Satellite Programme: Questions & Answers Part 1
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions during our July 2019 Webinar
Here is a selection of some of the questions that we received. We will continue to collate and release questions and answers, so do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what else you want to know.
Design and Architecture
1. Is this a new MicroSatellite Platform or a nU form factor?
The Open Source Satellite Platform is both: a new microsatellite platform and a new form factor.
We are designing a next-generation microsatellite platform that is scalable in size, which means that it will not have a single rigid form factor (also see the next question for more information).
2. The CubeSat form factor is well known and supported in multiple 'U's; how will you make this new platform ubiquitous?
We appreciate that the development of a standardised form factor has been instrumental for initiatives such as Cubesat systems; we therefore intend to develop a number of standard reference configurations, which may become de facto standards.
3. When you say, “Open Source Satellite”, are you referring to an Open Source Platform, or the whole spacecraft?
The Open Source element that our Programme is focused on is the microsatellite Platform.
We are engaging with and encouraging the wider ecosystem that needs to be established in order to enable full end to end mission capabilities; and we acknowledge that these enabling mission components will be provided by a combination of Open Source, Open Interface and appropriate Commercial capabilities.
4. What efforts are you making towards looking at distributed ground stations for TT&C (Telemetry, Telecommanding and Control)?
Our intention is that the platform architecture will not be dependent on proprietary modulation protocols, and that commercially available and accessible ground station infrastructure can be used for missions based on the Open Source Satellite Platform.
We are keen to build relationships with commercial and non-commercial ground station providers around the world so that mission, applications and services teams have access to a network of global ground stations.
Community and Getting Involved
5. How do you propose to get buy-in from organisations providing Mission Control System software as well as satellite designers?
Our vision is for the Open Source Satellite Programme to stimulate the use and application of space and to catalyse the growth of the community - by reducing the price-point of a performant microsatellite platform.
Our desire is for more parties to be involved in the deployment of space-based systems.
Programmes and projects based on using the Open Source Satellite platform may inevitably become customers for those mission control systems, and as part of the stakeholder and community activities we intend to engage with providers – including existing Open Source mission control system providers - to share requirements and perspectives.
6. How often do you publish blog posts? If I wanted to generate some blog material who do I contact?
We publish articles every couple of weeks on our website and we welcome contributions from mission teams, platform developers and the wider mission, system and application-enabling ecosystem.
If you would like to discuss contributing an article about Open Source topics, please contact us via email at email@example.com.
7. I am really interested in the topic of Open Source Satellites; how can I get involved?
We are interested in talking to people who are interested in being involved in a range of different ways, such as contributing to the design, acting as peer reviewers, providing design and engineering know-how and expertise, as well as involvement through funding and other sponsorship options.
Each type of participation is unique, according to the capabilities and aspirations of the person and organisation. We would love to hear from people and teams in the industry who are interested in participating; please get in touch with us so that we can continue the conversation.
Affordability and Funding
8. Our 1U CubeSat, with funding and goodwill development effort we think cost us £250k so any improvement would be of benefit.
We recognise the challenge and we are looking at how we can reduce costs whilst maintaining capability, performance, reliability and quality.
We envisage that the lessons that we learn through the development of a 25kg-250kg microsatellite platform will also benefit smaller platforms.
9. Will the released design information only have recommendations for certain modules/module suppliers or will design information be available for those as well? For example, will you be designing reaction wheels for the satellite and releasing the design information?
Our intent is that we will develop a full platform design solution, from the schematic level upwards - and not a “black box integration” approach.
Our intent is, using the example of a wheel, to make available all of the design information, such as the schematics, parts lists, mechanical designs and firmware.
Our goal is to create a much more functionally-integrated solution which embeds some of the functional capability, which today typically resides within discrete modules, within the core open source satellite avionics.
10. Do you agree that a repository MUST be well organised and searchable? Otherwise it just becomes a dumping ground.
Absolutely, we agree. We have not rushed to go live with our repository; we think that it is necessary to perform a considered evaluation of the different repository options, features and benefits.
We welcome views and opinions from the Community about the pros and cons of different repositories, and what the most important factors are in establishing and maintaining a repository that serves the needs of different stakeholder groups.
We will be addressing the topic of “how to memorialise information” in future articles and papers.
11. Do I have to wait until one year after launch to access any design information about the open source satellite?
Our pledge is that the full spacecraft platform data package will be made available, in its native design formats, one year after launch, but you will not need to wait until then to find out more about, and use the design.
We will be releasing a good quantity of material as we progress through the project milestones.
The majority of the Community will be able to access files in pdf format, whereas collaborators, sponsors and partners will benefit from earlier access to the lower-level detail design files.
12. How do you intend to tackle export control restrictions? Open sourcing some technologies may be considered dual-use and thus be not allowed to be open source.
We are leading the development of the design from the UK and shall be fully compliant with UK export legislation and controls – which at this stage do not impact our ability to create an Open Source platform design.
We are mindful that we need to be careful when engaging with collaborators, and that they ensure that any information that they provide does not contravene their own countries' export controls.
13. I enjoyed the the webinar, can I have a copy of the slides?
We are happy to share our material, you can view and download the slidedeck on Slideshare.
14. Thank you for a really interesting webinar, I am looking forward to the future webinars!
What would you like to know? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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