Virtual Mission Operations Center (VMOC)
Historically, ground control systems have been implemented as stovepipe systems. These monolithic systems were designed specifically for one asset, were very tightly integrated with the hardware that they ran on, and were written in the context of a single system utilizing the data. Design decisions along this path were necessary twenty years ago when computer hardware was slow, memory was limited, and computer languages were very basic. In contrast to this, the past decade has seen an impressive improvement in hardware and software. Processor speeds have increased over 100 fold with multiprocessor systems now being the norm rather than the exception. Memory capacities have increased over 1000 times, hardware has become a commodity item, and computer languages have evolved to support larger and larger projects. With all of these changes in the technology landscape, ground systems are still developed and operated in the archaic mindset they started in.
The PTR Group, Inc., having extensive experience in hardware integration and software development, worked with the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to develop the Virtual Mission Operations Center (VMOC) to address this problem. VMOC provides a rigorous interface for tactical users to generate satellite tasking. Using PTR’s knowledge of satellites and satellite systems, PTR engineers developed an autonomous system for satellite tasking. Using satellite telemetry, ephemeris and a defined rule-set, the VMOC matches a user’s tasking request with satellite/sensor availability to create satellite command loads.
The VMOC brings proven state of the art software technology and programming methodology, into a distributable, modular system. A robust framework has been developed that uses open interface standards and runs on readily available commodity hardware. By virtue of its distributable nature the framework is automatically able to take advantage of improvements and advances in multi-core and multiprocessor computer architectures. Reliance on open standards provides for the use of commodity hardware and the ability to choose the best components to use at the time of deployment rather than at the time of development.