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Development of the Ground Segment Communication System for the EIRSAT-1 CubeSat
2021-05-05, Marshall, Fergal, Murphy, David, Salmon, Lana, O'Callaghan, Derek, Doyle, Maeve, Reilly, Jack, Dunwoody, Rachel, Erkal, Jessica, Finneran, Gabriel, Fontanesi, Gianluca, Kyle, Jack, Mangan, Joseph, Thompson, Joseph W., Walsh, Sarah, de Faoite, Daithí, Hanlon, Lorraine, McKeown, David, O'Connor, William, Wall, Ronan, McBreen, Sheila, Greene, Derek
The Educational Irish Research Satellite (EIRSAT-1) is a student-led project to design, build and test Ireland’s first satellite. As part of the development, a ground segment (GS) has also been designed alongside the spacecraft. The ground segment will support two-way communications with the spacecraft throughout the mission. Communication with the satellite will occur in the very high frequency (VHF) and the ultra high frequency (UHF) bands for the uplink and downlink respectively. Different modulation schemes have been implemented for both uplink and downlink as part of the GS system. Uplink incorporates an Audio Frequency Shift-Keying (AFSK) scheme, while downlink incorporates a Gaussian Minimum Shift-Keying (GMSK) scheme. In order for the spacecraft to successfully receive a telecommand (TC) transmitted from the ground station, a framing protocol is required. AX.25 was selected as the data link layer protocol. A hardware terminal node controller (TNC) executes both the AX.25 framing and the AFSK modulation. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) framing software was developed to allow data to be accepted by the TNC. A software defined radio (SDR) approach has been chosen for the downlink. GNURadio is software that allows flowcharts to be built to undertake the required signal processing of the received signal, the demodulation of the signal and the decoding of data. This paper provides a detailed account of the software developed for the ground segment communication system. A review of the AX.25 and KISS framing protocols is presented. The GNURadio flowcharts that handle the signal processing and data decoding are broken down and each constituent is explained. To ensure the reliability and robustness of the system, a suite of tests was undertaken, the results of which are also presented.
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Development and Validation of the Operations Procedures and Manual for a 2U CubeSat, EIRSAT-1, with Three Novel Payloads
2021-05-05, Dunwoody, Rachel, Doyle, Maeve, Murphy, David, Finneran, Gabriel, O'Callaghan, Derek, Reilly, Jack, Thompson, Joseph W., Walsh, Sarah, Erkal, Jessica, Fontanesi, Gianluca, Kyle, Jack, Mangan, Joseph, Marshall, Fergal, Salmon, Lana, de Faoite, Daithí, Hanlon, Lorraine, McKeown, David, O'Connor, William, Wall, Ronan, McBreen, Sheila
The CubeSat standard, relatively short launch timescale, and orders of magnitude difference in cost in comparison to large scale missions, has allowed universities and smaller institutions to develop space missions. The Educational Irish Research Satellite (EIRSAT-1) is a 2U CubeSat being developed in University College Dublin (UCD) as part of the second round of the European Space Agency (ESA) Education Office’s Fly Your Satellite! (FYS) Programme. EIRSAT-1 is a student-led project to build, test, launch and operate Ireland’s first satellite. CubeSats typically use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to facilitate new teams in developing a satellite on a rapid timescale. While some of the EIRSAT-1 subsystems are COTS procured from AAC Clyde Space, EIRSAT-1 has three novel experiments on-board which have been developed in UCD. The spacecraft’s Antenna Deployment Module has also been designed and built in-house. The on-board computer (OBC), procured from AAC Clyde Space, has been adapted to interface with these novel hardware components, accompanied by in-house developed software and firmware. All of these innovative subsystems complicate the CubeSat functionality making it essential to document and rigorously test the operations procedures for EIRSAT-1. In preparation for launch with these novel spacecraft subsystems, the EIRSAT-1 Operations Manual is being developed and incrementally verified. The Operations Manual contains the procedures to command and control the satellite, account for nominal and non-nominal scenarios and guide the operator in determining the cause of any anomalies observed during the mission and facilitate recovery. A series of operations development tests (ODTs) have been designed and conducted for a robust verification process. Each procedure is written up by a member of the EIRSAT-1 Operations Team in the EIRSAT-1 Operations Manual format. During an ODT, an in-flight scenario is considered in which the procedure under test is required. The procedure is then followed by a team member who has not been involved in the procedure development process. The feedback from these tests and from the operators is used to improve the procedures and continually update the Operations Manual. This paper will present the approach to operations development used by the EIRSAT-1 team and discuss the lessons learned for CubeSat operations development, testing and pre-flight verification.