Spacecraft Systems History

The PTR Group has a long track record of demonstrated capability in all areas of the spacecraft design, implementation, integration, and testing lifecycles.  Some of the major efforts we have been instrumental in developing are outlined below.

 

 

Robotic Satellite Servicing Mission Support

Since 2008, The PTR Group has provided key software development support to the Robotic Demonstration and Test Group, in the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. PTR Group engineers have architected, designed and built a next generation distributed, cooperative, multi-robot software system to both demonstrate servicing tasks on the ground, and to evaluate the accuracy, capability, and usefulness of robotic servicing tools. Our engineers have been responsible for definition and implementation of a software development process satisfying NASA requirements, as well as working directly with robot hardware manufacturers to integrate their robots into the final system and to provide the level of required performance. The robotics experience includes detailed use of C/C++ and OROCOS robotics framework.

See the Robotic Satellite Servicing Mission Support Showcase for more information on the work PTR Group performed.

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Orbcomm Support
ORBCOMM has relied upon The PTR Group since 2004 for improvements to the in-orbit ORBCOMM constellation.  The PTR Group is intimately involved in critical system design and software development both on the ground and in space to allow this valuable service to continue.  With new satellites in development, The PTR Group was entrusted once again with the responsibility to provide subscriber and AIS network software for these satellites.

See the Orbcomm PTR Group showcase for a detailed description of the work PTR Group performed.

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Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS)
From 2010 through early 2013, The PTR Group supported the development of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) and Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) missions to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).  As experts in the area of embedded flight software development, the PTR Group worked with Orbital Science Corporation to develop, test and integrate flight software for communication, thermal control, and fire monitoring.

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Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft (F6)
For the first and second phases (2008-2010) of DARPA's F6 program, the PTR Group worked with Orbital Sciences Corporation to develop communication infrastructure and sensor interface software for a simulated cluster of spacecraft.  This software was written in C++ for the VxWorks operating system and involved both IPv4 and IPv6 communication protocols.

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Virtual Mission Operations Center

Web based tasking and exploitation of taskable assets.

With the advent of Operationally Responsive Space and the development of tactical satellites, comes the issue of providing access to those assets to the warfighter. The PTR Group, working with the US Naval Research Lab (NRL) and the Office of Force Transformation, has developed the Virtual Mission Operations Center (VMOC).

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TacSat - 1
Paving the way to Operationally Reponsive Space
PTR Group was a key solution provider to the Tacsat-1 program developed at the US Naval Research Lab (NRL). The Tacsat-1 spacecraft enables responsive real-time imagery and data to be collected and distributed directly to US military commands. The PTR Group has been key in supporting, and developing solutions for the VxWorks-based spacecraft software, Linux based payload software, and other mission control systems.

The PTR Group has been a key contributor in the support and development of solutions for the VxWorks and Linux-based spacecraft software and other mission control systems. The TacSat-1 program was featured as the cover article of the April 2005 Linux Journal. Our role continued to expand with the development of follow on generations of this satellite platform, TacSat-2, TacSat-3, and TacSat-4

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TacSat - 2 - AFRL follow on to TacSat-1
In a similar effort to TacSat-1, the PTR Group worked for the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) to develop TacSat-2. This follow on to TacSat-1 implemented the Target Indicator Experiment (TIE) sensor. For this program the PTR Group was involved in the design, implementation, test and integration of the TIE Payload.  The TacSat-2 satellite is currently in orbit.

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Interstellar Boundary Experiment (IBEX)
Investigating the edge of our solar system
IBEX is a NASA Small Explorer Mission designed to observe and map the shock front formed at the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space. The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission was launched in 2008 and is making observations from a highly elliptical (37 RE x 7000 km) orbit that takes it beyond the interference of the Earth's magnetosphere.

In 2006-2007, The PTR Group worked directly with Orbital Sciences Corporation to design, develop, and test flight software for the bus portion of the IBEX spacecraft.  PTR Engineers used their expertise with the Orbital Microstar product line to implement attitude determination instrument interface, power control, and command and data-handling software,  using the C language running within the VxWorks operating system.

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Space Technology 8
Validating New Space Technologies
Space Technology 8 (ST8) was a NASA New Millennium Project Mission designed to validate new subsystem-level technologies that have never been operated in a space environment.  The PTR Group supported Orbital Sciences Corporation to design, develop, and test flight software for the bus portion of the ST8 spacecraft. PTR Engineers used their expertise with the Orbital Microstar product line to implement command handling, telemetry collection, and payload interface software. This software consists of device driver, control, and monitoring tasks within the VxWorks operating system.

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The Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope
Opening the High-Energy World for Exploration
For the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) program, The PTR Group worked with the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) to develop RAD750 processor software for the instrument payload in the areas of primary boot, CPU monitor, memory access, and instrument mode control. This software required significant interaction with the spacecraft bus in terms of validating and interpreting commands from the spacecraft and creating and sending telemetry. Multiple platforms were used to develop and test this code, including both embedded and desktop systems.

See the GLAST PTR Group showcase for a detailed description of the work PTR Group performed.

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Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI)
Viewing the Sun's Corona in 3D
SECCHI is a suite of scientific telescopes that observe the solar corona and inner heliosphere spanning the distance from the surface of the Sun to the orbit of Earth. These observations are made in stereo from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, STEREO, which was launched in the fall of 2006. STEREO is a 2-year mission employing two nearly identical observatories to provide 3-D measurements of the Sun to study the nature of coronal mass ejections.

The PTR Group worked with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to investigate anomalies encountered during pre-flight testing of the SECCHI instruments. For this investigation, PTR analyzed RAD750 CPU boot code and developed procedures for using a Corelis JTAG in-circuit emulator to monitor Power PCI bridge chip registers during the boot process.

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Martian Rover HW/SW Interface
PTR has also successfully supported for Linux integration efforts for a Xilinx ML300 based solution for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. This was in support of the latest Martian Rover project. The PTR Group solved a hardware and software interface problem that was resulting in an inoperable firewire interface that prevented a camera system from operating properly. The PTR Group also configured the development environment for JPL on this project.

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Mublcom -Getting Voice And Data To Marines In The Field

PTR Group Software Makes Hand-Held Satellite Terminal Work

When Orbital had a short timeframe to design, implement, and demonstrate full network routing capabilities on their MUBLCOM handsets, they came to The PTR Group.

See the Handheld Satellite Terminal for a detailed description of the work PTR Group performed.

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