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D66 members of parliament visit Space Campus

Many thanks Romke de JongLisa van GinnekenKiki Kersten and Irina van der Hoorn for your visit to NL Space Campus and your sincere interest and enthusiasm for the social, scientific and economic value and impact of space technology and data!Started at the largest technological heart of European Space Agency - ESA ESA/ESTEC on campus and then to a.o. SCN AVATAR and SBIC to get acquainted with a number of innovative start-ups and scale-ups that know how to translate space technology and data into world markets.


Airbus DS NL successfully tests Optical Ground Station for laser communications

While the full end-to-end optical/ laser communications market is still developing, some applications are already taking shape. Recently, the Airbus DS NL team successfully performed calibration and pointing & control tests on the demonstrator Optical Ground Station (OGS) container. The tests were designed to confirm the hardware setup, check alignments on the optical bench and to demonstrate capability to acquire and track a laser beam from a counter terminal positioned at a distance of 35 m. The optical setup was delivered by General Atomics Synopta GmbH, which supports Airbus during the integration of the equipment in the transportable container and system demonstration.

Airbus Space has been at the forefront of laser communications by developing and building the European Data Relay System (EDRS), often referred to as Space Data Highway, by creating the Optical Communications Unified Roadmap (OCUR). The main laser hardware in the Space Data Highway was developed by Airbus subsidiary TESAT; the service is being managed by the Airbus Connected Intelligence division. Within OCUR, Airbus DS Netherlands is developing Optical Ground Stations (OGS) and Aerial Laser Terminals, in collaboration with TNO and in preparation of further industrialization with the FSO consortium.

Sparkwing solar panels from Airbus DS NL to power lunar mission of Masten

Sparkwing solar panels from Airbus DS NL to power lunar mission of Masten Sparkwing, the off-the-shelf solar panels for small satellites developed by Airbus DS NL, has been selected by USA-based Masten Space Systems for their XL-1 lunar lander. In 2023, the XL-1 spacecraft will land at the lunar South Pole as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. XL-1 will be equipped with six body-mounted Sparkwing solar panels, to be delivered next year, to charge the vehicle’s power system during transition to the Moon as well as during operations on the Moon’s surface. The Sparkwing solar panels from Airbus DS NL are the world’s first commercially available off-the-shelf option for small spacecraft. Plugging 3D models of standard Sparkwing components into the spacecraft design allowed for a speedy evaluation on where to place items and where it would need customization to meet the specific needs of Masten Mission 1. This led to a XL-1 specific design derivative of the Sparkwing catalogue product, with increased panel sizing and cut-outs on both long edges of the panel to accommodate the landing legs of the spacecraft. Each solar panel has 320 solar cells, with 3G30 space-grade solar cells provided by Azur Space. Building on over fifty years of experience in developing solar arrays, Airbus uses a “mix and match” approach of combining standard components with specific adaptations where needed for the Sparkwing solar panels.

Next steps European Robotic Arm

On September 21, exactly two months after the successful launch of the Airbus-built European Robotic Arm (ERA), ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and his Russian colleagues attempted to switch on ERA to test if all systems are functioning. This effort was partly successful: due to faults in the data bus connection between the central computer of the Russian Segment and Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka (with ERA), the arm itself could not be operated. The control panels of ERA have been successfully tested by connecting them directly to the central computer. RSC Energia, the Russian aerospace manufacturer of Nauka, is investigating the malfunctions and the measures to be taken. If the data bus is operational, the In-Orbit Commissioning test programme of ERA will be completed, which is expected to take place by the end of the year.

The first moves with the European Robotic Arm are planned in January and February 2022. It will take five spacewalks to get the robotic arm fit for space operations. ERA’s first tasks in orbit are to set up the airlock and install a large radiator for the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also called ‘Nauka’.

Interview with the team involved in the BRIK-II satellite

BRIK II, the first military nanosatellite of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), built by ISISPACE, was successfully launched last week onboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne vehicle. The launch vehicle was carried by a modified Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl and released at 7:47 AM (PT) over the Pacific Ocean. ISISPACE has been a major stakeholder in this project, acting as the platform and ground segment designer, integrator and responsible for the launch arrangements and the platform commissioning. Curious to learn some insights about this mission from the team members? Check out the interviews below from some of the ISISPACE team members that have been working on this project:

When did you start working on the Brik-II project?

Ivan: Since I joined ISISPACE in March 2019 the BRIK-II project was given to me. I started the project as a Radio Frequency Systems Engineer.

Coen: I joined the team in January 2019.

Hong Yang: The project started back in November 2017, as an ambitious project to put the RNLAF and the Dutch Industry on the map as a Space Force. I took over the management in January 2019 from my colleague. As you already see the team changed around that point.

What were the major concerns over the project?

Ivan: The development and test of a new radio frontend for a military frequency band was a bit of a challenge. And also, the 6U satellite with 3 different payloads was the most complex project for me at ISISPACE. Mostly because of the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) of the subsystems. It took some time to resolve all the problems. A lot of creativity was required to solve issues that we were facing during the AIT (Assembly, Integration and Testing) phase and EMC testing campaign.

In the end, all the issues were successfully mitigated, and we’ve got a lot of lessons learnt for other projects as well.

Coen: The deadlines were challenging.

Hong Yang: From the start the project had ambition. The parties worked hard together to bring the payloads and platform together. However, like with many of the technology demonstrator projects, interface management was of utmost importance and challenging. The COVID-19 situation made the interface discussions a lot more difficult, blocking parties to work hands-on on the satellite during the period that everything came together for the first time.

How would you classify this project over your career?

Ivan: As I mentioned before, the BRIK-II was the most challenging and complex project for me. Very happy to be part of this mission.

Coen: Incredible experience and I was able to apply almost everything I’ve learned throughout the years and other jobs

Hong Yang: A career-boosting project. The challenging nature, the scope of the project and the complexity of the relationship management is something special. It is bringing a space system from A to Z. And how great is it to also have it launched on the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne Everyone watched with awe at this spectacular journey.

How would you describe all this experience in a few words?

Ivan: Exciting, challenging and groundbreaking. I am very proud of our teamwork and very good collaboration with RNLAF and payload providers.

Coen: Simply awesome and something to never forget. Proud. I was able to partially build and test the satellite and integrate it onto Virgin Orbit’s rocket. So, I got the whole package. Which is incredible.

Hong Yang: In one word: UNIQUE. While sometimes, mind breaking the result is what counts: great teamwork, solving complex issues, paving the road for the next missions.

Last Wednesday, the 30th of June, was a historical moment for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF): the BRIK-II, the first Dutch military nanosatellite, built by ISISPACE, was successfully launched onboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne vehicle. The launch vehicle was carried by a modified Boeing 747 called Cosmic Girl and released at 7:47 AM (PT) over the Pacific Ocean.

BRIK-II is a technology demonstrator in answer to the investments in the space program of the Dutch Defense, essential to the future safety and security of Dutch society, as described in the Defense Vision 2035. The BRIK II-is the first satellite of RNLAF to demonstrate the potential of nanosatellite technology for military and civil use cases.

ISISPACE has been a major stakeholder in this project, acting as the platform and ground segment designer, integrator and responsible for the launch arrangements and the platform commissioning. The satellite hosts three demonstration payloads. The first one is a store and forward radio, developed by the RNLAF 982SQN, allowing the forces to send secure messages via the satellite. The scintillation monitor, developed by the University of Oslo (UiO) measures ionosphere scintillation, enabling the RNLAF to analyze and determine whether interferences in the GPS and other communication are due to natural events, or by potential adversaries. The third payload is the ESM sensor, developed by the NLR, which allows the RNLAF to detect and analyze the use of radio signals. The Delft University of Technology was involved in the project as an adviser to the RNLAF.

First signals for BRIK-II were received the same day, confirming strong health and excellent communication conditions with the satellite. Within a day, the team was able to start the commissioning of the first systems, which will be continued in the coming week. It is expected that the satellite will be ready for payload commissioning before the end of the month.

In 1913 Marinus van Meel built ‘The BRIK’ which was the first aircraft for the ‘Luchtvaartafdeeling’ (nowadays known as Royal Netherlands Air Force) in Soesterberg. To commemorate his pioneering spirit, the first nanosatellite gets the honourable name of BRIK-II. Would you like to know more about the historical “BRIK”? Check out the video: