ESA Successfully Demonstrates Next-Generation Powerful Spacecraft “Brain”

The OPS-SAT spacecraft was designed specifically for testing the new mission control system 6 photos
Photo: ESA
OPS-SAt renderingMission Control of the futureOPS-SATRosetta spacecraft mission controllersTesting OPS-SAT
The European Space Agency has marked another premiere – European entities in the space sector will be able to operate spacecraft with a new, highly-advanced “brain”, or software. The Agency recently announced that it has successfully operated a spacecraft with this innovative software, for the first time.
If you’re not familiar with OPS-SAT, it’s a satellite that’s only 11.8-inch (30 cm) high, which was designed exclusively as a “flying laboratory” for testing a brand-new, highly advanced mission control system, since it would have been too much of a risk to test it on any current mission.

One thing is for sure, and that is the fact that more space missions are being launched today, than ever before. It’s not just a numbers game, but also a much wider variety of tasks. Satellites, for example, have evolved so much that they can monitor with precision landmasses, oceans, climate changes, as well as helping to clean up space debris. All of this requires a powerful “brain” – to quickly receive commands, perform tasks and send back vital information.

This powerful software would have to be able to operate bigger missions simultaneously. Basically, several operators, in different countries and control centers, could collaborate and share expertise, which is important especially during critical missions.

Called the “European Ground System - Common Core” (EGS-CC), this next-generation mission control system has been developed by ESA together with other European space agencies and industry partners. After years of hard work, now it was time to test the EGS-CC on the OPS-SAT. During the test, teams at the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) used the control system to monitor and guide the 11.8-inch satellite.

This was an important milestone that opens the way for future use of the new spaceflight brain. ESA has already taken the next step and is now selecting which of the current missions can switch over to the new software. Starting form 2025, all future missions will be operated using the EGS-CC control system, for a new era of multi-mission control.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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