An International Operations Award for the OPS-SAT Mission!
Thank you to everyone contributing to this remarkable success. Click here to find our more.
- Submit your idea for an OPS-SAT-2 Mission dedicated to optical and quantum communications: The ARTES Scylight OPS-SAT-2 call is out.
- [Closed] OPS-SAT 1 call for Space Cybersecurity Services is now closed. More information on this past event here.
What is OPS-SAT Space Lab?¶
OPS-SAT Space Lab is an ESA service to help accelerate innovation in OPS related areas. It uses powerful, reconfigurable space elements that can be used for in-flight experimentation not possible or desirable on other missions. The service provides access to these labs for all European industry and institutions, using a fast, cost free, non-bureaucratic process. Industry can concentrate of generating value while ESA assumes the risk of performing these experiments.
Each space element has a different theme:
OPS-SAT-1 (Communication Protocols)¶
OPS-SAT 1 is a 3U CubeSat launched on December 18th, 2019. It was funded by the ESA General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) and built by Austrian, German, Polish and Danish industry. Its aim is to demonstrate the improvements in mission control capabilities that arise when satellites can fly more powerful on-board computers. Being in orbit for over three years, it has produced numerous publications and validated concepts that are now being adapted by big upcoming space missions. Its success has paved the way for further missions, in which the lessons learned are being incorporated.
OPS-SAT-2 (Optical and Quantum Communication)¶
In 2021 ESA ran a study in the Concurrent Development Facility (CDF) to assess the feasibility of extending the OPS-SAT concept to build a flying CubeSat lab that focuses on Optical and Quantum Communications. You can find the CDF report here .
Using the CDF report as inspiration, industry has proposed a future mission to be incorporated into OPS-SAT Space Lab called OPS-SAT VOLT (Versatile Optical Lab for Telecommunications. It is funded by the ARTES Scylight Strategic Programme Line and will be built by UK, Lithuanian and Polish industry. This 12U CubeSat will be equipped with an optical terminal, quantum source, AI computer and hyperspectral camera. Launch is planned for 2025.
In addition, Scylight is opening a thematic call for more European industry proposed missions in the course of 2023.
The OPS-SAT family¶
OPS-SAT Space Lab – a term encompassing all OPS-SAT spacecrafts as well as the ground segment, including the infrastructure and people.
SMILE – the ground infrastructure of OPS-SAT Space Lab, containing servers/clients, communication networks and ground stations.
OPS-SAT-1 – our presently flying spacecraft, the grandfather of all OPS-SATs.
OPS-SAT-2 – a term referring to all the future OPS-SAT missions which have an optical/quantum communication theme. We are actively working with TIA Scylight on this series of spacecraft.
OPS-SAT VOLT – the first of the OPS-SAT-2 missions kicking off soon.
OPS-SAT-3.4.5 – future OPS-SAT missions with a different theme e.g. cyber or low altitude ops. We have no funding programme identified yet but remain open to any opportunities.
#OPSSAT - general hashtag for news related to the OPS-SAT Space Lab
- first ever space mission dedicated to operational technology
- first nanosatellite directly owned and operated by ESA
- first ever in-orbit laboratory where the public can load and test software/firmware
- first ESA mission directly controllable in real-time over the internet by the public
- first mission to offer an on-board environment (NMF) that allows the easy development of apps for upload and execution, comparable to the concept of modern smartphones
- first ESA mission to reconfigure an in-orbit FPGA on a daily basis
- first ESA mission to use CFDP (CCSDS File Delivery Protocol) operationally
- first ESA mission to use CCSDS Mission Operations Services (MO) on-board, on the space-to-ground link, and on ground
- first ever stock market transaction successfully performed in space
- first european deep learning processing of an image using an on-board FPGA
- first on-board update of an ANN (artificial neural network) in space in an institutional mission
- first successful in-orbit decoding and processing of ground based emergency beacons
- first successful re-training of an on-board AI model with live in-flight data
- first successful loading and in-orbit operational use of an AI model for FDIR
- first successful in-orbit implementation of a Spacewire protocol on top of an existing LVDS connection
- first mission successfully commanded with Europe’s next-generation mission control system EGS-CC
How to become an experimenter?¶
This platform guides experimenters through the software development and testing process, and supports on any upcoming questions or issues. In order to get full access, a registration is required. To become an experimenter, please fill-out the experimenter's form (PDF 413 KB) and send it to the OPS-SAT Experimenter Support Team via email - email@example.com. Only after approval of your application you can register on this community platform. For the complete process of registering and running an experiment, see How to become an experimenter
Seed funding on OSIP¶
In 2021 12 promising proposals were chosen on ESA's Open Space Innovation Platform to receive financial support in order to realize their experiment. Developed and validated were among others a technique to improve the resolution of satellite images, new data compression algorithms and a new communications protocol. The results are impressive and part of the new software is used operationally on OPS-SAT-1 on a daily basis.
To find out more about the campaign, challenges faced and the experiments themselves, click here.
Results produced by OPS-SAT¶
(Image acquired by OPS-SAT while orbiting above Argentina, near the Andes)