SkyReal for NewSpace, the new AIT and ATLO tools

 

There has been a lot of talk about NewSpace in recent months: this term is intended to define the entry of the private sector into the space industry, which until now has been the exclusive preserve of the public sector.

NewSpace began in the United States and has spread to Europe and the rest of the world ; start-ups are emerging in the space sector, often introducing new digital technologies. The European Space Agency (ESA) is supporting several of them, which confirms that Europe is keen to be active in this field.

Clearly, NewSpace introduces business into an international space competition where new players can disrupt the market with low cost approaches.  

In these conditions, it is necessary to push profitability to the extreme; to do this, the NewSpace players are using various leverages: low-cost launchers, the use of local launch zones and group launches, etc. 

In particular, the launch of small satellites called smallsats and nanosats. The smallsat market is booming, with an estimated 20,000 satellites to be launched by 2030, which is more than 10 times the current fleet.

One of them, which can considerably reduce costs, is integration: once the satellite has come off the production line, it must be transported to the launch zone and integrated into the launcher that will put it into orbit. This phase is extremely important for the successful launch into orbit; it brings together the teams that have worked on the satellite’s manufacture on the customer side and, on the launch vehicle side, the A.I.T. (Assembly, Integration and Test) teams. (Assembly, Integration and Test) or A.T.L.O. (Assembly, Test and Launch Operation) teams who will carry out the assembly, testing, integration of the satellite into the launcher fairing and launch. 

This is a particularly sensitive phase since the satellite passes from the hands of those who manufactured it to those who are going to launch it with a contractually defined transfer of responsibility. However, each satellite is different, so each contract is specific; it is therefore fundamental in terms of risk management to pay particular attention to this integration stage, which requires precision and preparation because it brings together multidisciplinary teams of engineers from all backgrounds (electronics and electricity, architecture, space systems, mechanical engineering, thermal engineering, optics, etc.).

It is precisely on the preparation and validation of these integration operations (AIT and ATLO) that the use of a virtual reality solution has a role to play because the teams (AIT process manager, AIT engineers and AIT operators) could meet around the 1:1 scale prototype of the satellite in order to validate the integration procedure for the operators.

This is why Spark Orbital is partnering with SkyReal to build a competitive offer whose functionalities allow to meet the needs and ensure a maximum quality of service with substantial time savings.

Customers can define remotely with the launch teams, all the specificities required for the integration of their satellite and simulate the processes in virtual reality.