In Orbit Verification as a Service

Satellites consist of a variety of subsystems and components. To cope with the needs of the users, developers must improve the capabilities of each new generation of a satellite bus by using new parts, components or subsystems.

The steadily rising number of satellites being launched each year, accelerated by a strong competition and decreasing prices on the launch services market, creates a growing demand for new high-performance components and subsystems. Due to the nature of space, to successfully address this attractive market, novel parts must have a proven and very high reliability. While qualification campaigns on ground simulate the influence of launch loads, thermal cycles, vacuum or radiation for a limited time and not in a combined way – in orbit verification shows that a part can withstand a combination of these loads. Flight heritage acquired in IoV campaigns is the ultimate proof of reliability. In addition to the existence of a mission with enough free capacity and a suitable launch date, acquiring flight heritage on a classic space mission requires a complex and time-consuming qualification campaign which needs to be completed in advance and according to relevant standards and guidelines, such as ECSS.

CubeSats offer a novel, rapid and cost-effective approach to IoD and IoV of components and subsystems. By relying on cost-effective Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) components, by standardizing the bus and making use of scaling effects in serial production and by using agile project management methods CubeSat platforms have the potential to decrease the costs of IoD and IoV missions by an order of magnitude. Moreover, due to the CubeSat form factor, frequent launch opportunities are available – allowing for a significant reduction of the time needed to prepare such a mission.

Once a technology has been demonstrated and verified in space, it has flight heritage. Flight heritage opens new markets to technologies due to the inherent reliability that comes with successful on-orbit demonstration and verification.

The new space industry rapidly develops, many new, innovative technologies have been invented and brought to a high technology readiness level (TRL) in the last years. Miniaturized electric propulsion systems, 3D printed or composite mechanical structures and high data rate (HDR) transceivers for CubeSats are only some examples. A typical product is built upon hundreds of microchips, small components, special materials and more. These components must reach a high TRL, before being used as part of innovative space solutions. Flight heritage is the ultimate proof of space qualification – obtaining it is the final step before active commercialization. There is a large industry behind the satellite assembly factories of tomorrow which turned over USD ~ 13,9 Billion in 2017 – and it needs more In Orbit Verification possibilities. For this industry as well as for institutional and educational clients working at the forefront of the NewSpace revolution, German Orbital Systems (GOS) has developed a new, disruptive In-Orbit Verification possibility. It allows small components to obtain flight heritage without building a dedicated satellite, maintaining a ground station network or negotiating a launch campaign.

The GROOVE service is a new way of testing electronic components in space

From the very beginning, the needs of the customers were driving the service concept. Intensive exchange with companies, scientific institutions and space agencies delivered a novel satellite platform as the backbone of the service. The 3U GROOVE platform was introduced 2018. It provides 10 identical slots for hosted payloads. Each slot can be equipped with a PCB designed by the customer, according to an interface specification issued by German Orbital Systems prior to the mission. The novel GROOVE-EVO platform is currently under development with kind support of the DLR and ESA. It will allow to host larger payloads and will future radiation measurement equipment to monitor the operation conditions of the payloads. 

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