Celestia STS introduces new approach to spacecraft test & simulation
Celestia STS is a company based in Noordwijk on NL Space Campus and is an important partner of the Campus and its space community. They are a specialist in ground-based solutions for satellite testing, communications, and data processing. Last month they launched a Multi-Purpose Interface Platform (MPIP) that offers a novel approach to spacecraft test and simulation. MPIP is designed to support future space programmes with data rates of up to 20Gbps and beyond.
MPIP is a modular, scalable Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) that enables space equipment builders or integrators to test and simulate different electrical interfaces in a fast, flexible, and cost-efficient manner. By combining interfaces into a single platform that's completely scalable, it offers a highly effective and versatile testing solution for all spacecrafts from large to small.
One platform, many interfaces
The various satellite onboard interfaces commonly used within testing programmes make use of the European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) standards, which define a multitude of standardised onboard electrical and protocol interfaces. These vary from low rate, up to 2Mbps, to medium rate, up to 400Mbps, up to high rate of 6.25Gbps and beyond. Traditionally these types of interfaces are implemented by dedicated EGSE units or platforms divided by type and bandwidth of an interface type, making them costly to implement and maintain.
Celestia STS's new MPIP adopts a more flexible and efficient approach by integrating all interface types into a common architecture that supports the complete range of spacecraft on-board interfaces. Such as Power, Discretes, SpaceWire and future High-Speed Interfaces like WizardLink, all in a single platform. As such it is designed to support future space programmes with data rates of up to 20Gbps and beyond.
Scalable and versatile unit
MPIP is a rack-mount or tabletop 19”, 3U unit which supports up to 16 interface modules. Each module represents dedicated electrical or data ECSS interface types (LCL, ASM, TSM, HPC, SpW etc) and is designed in a 3U Eurocard size form factor, which adds to the scalability of the system. For small systems, the modules can be mounted horizontally, providing a total of eight slots in a 2U high unit.
"By combining different MPIP modules in one platform, we can offer customers a versatile, cost-efficient, and easily maintainable spacecraft test and simulation system. It’s an answer to the new space trends," says Dougie Johnman, COO at Celestia STS. He adds: "Future satellite test and simulation systems need to meet the increasingly higher data rate requirements for current and future satellites. While maintaining the standard discrete electrical interfaces which monitor and control payload and platform sub-systems. Our new solution achieves both, making it a very attractive proposition for our current and prospective clients alike.”
A partnership of expertise
Development of the innovative MPIP system commenced in October 2018, when Celestia STS received Netherlands Space Office (NSO) funding as part of the ESA General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). Celestia leveraged its extensive track record in designing and building state-of-the-art EGSEs and incorporated best-practice and learnings from its highly experienced team to design and produce the MPIP.
"We are happy to support Celestia STS's new product development, leading to today's launch of a new test and simulation system that will address the future needs of the space industry," says Luc Boumans, NSO Coordinator Space Technology IPC, THAG Delegate. "It’s our goal to support innovative Dutch space companies like Celestia STS, which create high added-value products to tackle future space challenges.”
About Celestia STS:
Celestia STS provides ground-based solutions for satellite testing, communication and data processing. The business has over 35 years of experience supplying satellite test, simulation and TT&C modem equipment for the European Space Industry and worldwide customers. It has supplied more than 300 EGSEs and modems to space agencies, large system integrators, and specialised flight-equipment.