The role of Telespazio in the ESA mission LISA Pathfinder

Kourou  25 November 2015

The LISA Pathfinder  spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) will be launched with a VEGA carrier on December 2 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, in French Guiana. The target of the ESA mission is to test technology to detect gravitational waves in space.

After launch, the spacecraft will be placed in a temporary parking orbit slightly elliptical. Then the probe will use its thrusters to reach its final position in an orbit about 1.5 million km from Earth.

To the LISA Pathfinder mission, realized with the important support of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), Telespazio contributed through its subsidiary Telespazio VEGA Deutschland. The company has contributed – and is still involved – in the mission through both software solutions and operational services to the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt.

The development part included an operational simulator that has been used to train the ESOC Flight Control Team for the LEOP and will be used for further training of the in-orbit routine operations and the continuous validation of the day-to-day activities. The simulation campaign has been led by an experienced simulations officer from Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.

In addition to this, the company has been awarded the development of a science extension for the operational simulator. This extension is used by scientists at the Science and Technology Operations Centre (STOC) to run experiments before the launch of the spacecraft and to collect test data.

On the operations side, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is supporting operations at ESOC through many expert staff: In the background, they ensure smooth ICT services in the area of computer systems engineering as well as data and voice communications engineering. Another team is in charge of Ground Station services: Telespazio VEGA is providing a LISA Pathfinder Ground Operations Manager in Malindi (Kenya) and has supported the new antenna deployment at this site. Of course, onsite support during the LEOP is ensured. In addition, the company is supporting the LEOP Ground Station preparation as well as the implementation and validation of new dedicated LPF acquisition features.

At the front row, Telespazio VEGA staff form a large part of the operations teams at ESOC. In Flight Dynamics, the company is supporting the ESOC team with experts for attitude, orbit, test & validation; in the Flight Control Team in the areas of Systems Engineering, Data Handling and AOCS.

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