Objectives of the service
The use of Earth Observation can become more efficient by providing a service for rapid application deployment on orbit. This is important to unlock the full potential of space assets as many different customer data requests can be served throughout a satellite lifecycle. Introducing flexible on-orbit computation for increased downlink bandwidth management, meta tagging of data onboard, removal of clouds, and initial analytics enable very low latency data products with minimized delays for high-fidelity actionable information. SpaceCloud provides both applications, software ecosystem and hardware (e.g. the powerful iX5 and iX10 hardware platforms). SpaceCloud OS and SpaceCloud Framework enables containerized deployment of applications in orbit using standard machine learning and virtualization tools found on earth. SpaceCloud enables a usage-based business model where customers pay for time spent or resources used on the platform. This will reduce cost for end users, as they only pay for what they use. On the other hand, it will increase revenue for satellite operators since SpaceCloud increases satellite usage.
Users and their needs
Satellite operators and integrators such as Italian D-Orbit can evolve their business model with SpaceCloud as a standardized platform to simplify satellite integration and operation by having easy-to-use APIs and certified and reliable hardware and software. Application developers, such as US remote sensing company Saraniasat Inc can decrease development cost by using a framework with virtualized access to hardware and sensors and an easy-to-use API. They also need support in developing their apps for SpaceCloud.
The users of SpaceCloud are innovative companies that need to transition from selling complete missions into selling satellite services. They need to be able to charge the satellite users depending on usage of the platform.
SpaceCloud targets 6U (10-15 kg) satellites and larger systems.
Service/ system concept
Unibap is providing its SpaceCloud hardware (SCHW) and open software platform; SpaceCloud Operating System (SCOS) and SpaceCloud Framework (SCFW), for high performance payload data processing on small satellites or cube satellites down to 6U. Space computer solutions for large and small resource limited spacecraft contains everything needed in terms of power generation, calculation, data storage, communication interface, etc. Therefore, a computer solution is not comparable to an individual computer card.
Included in the SCHW is the current iX5-family and the iX10-family under development. The current iX5-family payload data processing units constitute a mature solution together with the SCOS, on which the SCFW can be deployed in an optimized environment.
The SCFW runs on the iX5 or iX10. It contains a top-level standardized API for orchestration of containerized applications in space with associated micro-services for sensor readout, storage, communication, and scheduling.
Space Added Value
The SpaceCloud hardware platforms iX5 and iX10, installed with SpaceCloud OS and SpaceCloud Framework, are used to demonstrate the business model. The iX5 is selected for NASA’s HyTI mission but will make its maiden journey in June 2021 with D-Orbit’s WILD RIDE ION mission. Both the iX5 and the iX10 are radiant-tolerant systems with a heterogenous architecture, enabling powerful on-board computation for Earth Observation. No other known competitor provides a heterogeneous and fault tolerant x86 architecture in the new space area.
The project has started with the collection of user needs that is used as input to the requirements document. Held customer meetings and interviews with satellite operators and integrators, application developers, and ground segment providers. Input was summarized in internal workshops.