News

STAR-Dundee Is Recruiting!

We are currently looking to expand our team and have several positions open to work on our new products and technology for spacecraft applications. If you have a background in electronic circuit board, FPGA or ASIC design, or software engineering then we would be delighted to hear from you. We do expect you to have a 1st class or 2:1 degree in a relevant subject and are looking for people who are capable of working from their own initiative but who are also capable of working alongside other team members.

The roles are based in our main office in the heart of Dundee, overlooking the Tay estuary and a few minutes’ walk from the city centre. Dundee is a thriving University town in the heart of Scotland (50 miles north of Edinburgh), close (20 miles) to the Highlands and an ideal base for those who enjoy outdoor activities. Dundee was listed by Lonely Planet in 2018 as one of the top ten best European destinations to visit and praised for its ‘head-turning’ urban redevelopment.

Dundee and the Tay Road Bridge at dusk
Photo by Kim Cessford / DCT Media from https://www.seedundee.com/news/tay-bridge-our-10-favourite-photographs-of-this-iconic-structure-that-joins-fife-with-the-city-of-discovery/

As well as being a world leading supplier of spacecraft electronic test equipment and technology, offering interesting and challenging work, STAR-Dundee is an employee owned company. Around 55% of the company’s shares are owned by an Employee Ownership Trust on behalf of the employees. Staff are represented on this Trust and on the Board of Directors. Employees also benefit, when there is a dividend payment to the other shareholders, with a tax-free bonus.

Further information, including details of how to apply can be found in the job description.

STAR-Dundee CTO Recognised with Fletcher of Saltoun Award

We are delighted to announce that our Chief Technology Officer, Steve Parkes, was recently presented with a Fletcher of Saltoun Award by the Saltire Society. These awards recognise outstanding contributions to Scottish society across different walks of life.

Congratulations to Steve from everyone at STAR-Dundee on this award, which is well deserved!

In addition to founding STAR-Dundee and leading the company as first Managing Director and then CEO until 2017, Steve is responsible for writing the SpaceWire, RMAP and SpaceFibre standards with input from the international space community. These standards are now used in hundreds of spacecraft which are monitoring the Earth, exploring our Solar System, and studying the universe.

In his current position as CTO, Steve is continuing to lead our research and development activities, while contributing to the development of new standards. One of several projects that he is responsible for STAR-Dundee’s contribution to is Hi-SIDE. In this world-leading project, we are collaborating with partners from across Europe, including Airbus, DLR, Kongsberg and Tesat, to significantly increase the performance of spacecraft data chains. Steve’s knowledge in this field was recognised with his appointment as chair of the Hi-SIDE System Design Board by the project’s partners.

STAR-Dundee would also like to extend our congratulations to the other recipients of a Fletcher of Saltoun Award in 2019: Aileen Christianson, Di Gilpin and Jan Clarkson, each of whom have made significant contributions to Scottish society in their respective fields.

New STAR-Dundee Website Live!

Following considerable development, we are delighted to announce that our new website is now live!

The new site has separate sections for SpaceWire and SpaceFibre, where we hope to be able to answer all of your questions on these technologies. We will be adding more content in future and are always happy to receive suggestions for improvements. Please contact us if you have any suggestions, questions or encounter any issues with the site.

We are grateful to Dundee-based Graphic Design and Web Development team Kin for their efforts on the site and the design of our other marketing materials. With Kin’s assistance, we have been working to adopt a consistent theme across our website, brochures, banners and other marketing material.


In conjunction with the release of the new website, we also plan to send out news update e-mails approximately every 6 months with information on the latest SpaceWire and SpaceFibre developments, and shorter e-mails to notify users of software and firmware updates for products they have previously registered on the website as these updates become available. If you have an account on our website, you can opt in or out of either of these e-mail types from your Account details page. If you don’t have an account, you can register your products on the Product Registration page of the Support section of the website.

For anyone who had an account on our old website, this has been transferred over to the new site, although you will need to update your password. You can do this by selecting the Lost Your Password link on the My Account page.

All the features of the old site are present, with the updated Support section making it easier to navigate to Product Updates for STAR-Dundee products. There’s also a dedicated page listing the events we will be attending this year if you’d like to meet us.

STAR-Dundee and Alpha Data Demonstrate SpaceFibre and SpaceWire on Alpha Data’s ADA-SDEV-KIT XQRKU060

STAR-Dundee and Alpha Data have recently demonstrated compatibility between our FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board and the Alpha Data ADA-SDEV-KIT. The Alpha Data ADA-SDEV-KIT is the principal prototyping platform for designs targeting the Xilinx Space Grade Ultrascale™ part, the XQRKU060. This new FPGA allows deployment of Space Based Reconfigurable solutions more than five times the performance of previous generations, and has significantly higher performance transceivers that can support the highest SpaceFibre data rate of 6.25 Gbit/s per lane. The STAR-Dundee FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board provides the perfect development platform for customers wishing to test and develop SpaceWire and SpaceFibre solutions with our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre VHDL IP cores.

FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre Board

“STAR-Dundee’s SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP and FMC card will enable Alpha Data ADA-SDEV-KIT customers to develop and implement robust, fault tolerant, space capable communications systems.”

Andrew McCormick, Technical Director, Alpha Data

Established in 1993, Alpha Data is a world leader in Xilinx FPGA based plug-in acceleration boards for Data Center, high-performance computing, and rugged embedded computing applications. Alpha Data’s high-reliability hardware platforms are ideal for development as well as full-scale production deployment – shaping the future in video processing, machine learning, and network acceleration. Further product details and ordering options for Alpha Data’s ADA-SDEV-KIT are available on Alpha Data’s website: www.alpha-data.com.

More information about the FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board and the SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP cores is available on the Products section of our website.

STAR Fire Mk3 Now Available!

STAR Fire Mk3

Closely following on from the publication of the SpaceFibre standard, our latest SpaceFibre and SpaceWire enabled test and development unit is now available!

The STAR Fire Mk3 can transmit and receive both SpaceWire and SpaceFibre traffic; it can interconnect SpaceWire equipment to a SpaceFibre network; and it can operate as a SpaceFibre link analyser, capable of unobtrusively capturing and displaying SpaceFibre traffic. Leveraging these capabilities, it is possible to emulate, stimulate, debug and validate SpaceFibre enabled equipment.

Previous versions of the STAR Fire were created whilst we developed the SpaceFibre standard, helping to prove the technology and providing early adopters with access to test equipment. Building on the previous STAR Fire models and our expertise in SpaceFibre, both the STAR Fire Mk3 hardware and software have been significantly improved, resulting in a comprehensive test and development platform.

More information is available on the STAR Fire Mk3 product page.

SpaceFibre Standard Published!

SpaceFibre Standard Published

For the past decade, STAR-Dundee has been leading the development of the next generation of SpaceWire technology: SpaceFibre. SpaceFibre is a high-performance, high-reliability, high-availability network technology for use onboard spacecraft.

Our efforts in developing SpaceFibre were recently rewarded with the publication of the SpaceFibre standard, “ECSS-E-ST-50-11C – SpaceFibre – Very high-speed serial link”, by the European Space Agency’s standardisation body, the European Cooperation for Space Standardization.

SpaceFibre provides data signalling rates of 6.25 Gbit/s in current flight technology, over electrical or fibre optic cables, while its unique multi-laning features allow up to 16 lanes to be combined into a single link, giving a theoretical link rate of 100 Gbit/s. SpaceFibre offers much more than high data rates, however. The technology is capable of detecting, isolating and recovering from faults in the link where they occur, which prevents faults from propagating and causing further errors. SpaceFibre provides galvanic isolation, transparent recovery from transient errors, error containment in virtual channels and frames, and “Babbling Node” protection. Very versatile quality of service mechanisms allow scheduled, deterministic communication without wasting any network bandwidth.

These powerful capabilities mean that SpaceFibre is not only suitable for very high data rate payloads such as synthetic aperture radar and multi-spectral imaging instruments; it can also be used for network and equipment management and for deterministic command and control type applications. SpaceFibre allows each of these traffic types with very different requirements to share a single network, with each traffic stream operating independently within its own virtual network.

SpaceFibre has been and is being designed into its first ASICs, on-board equipment and space missions. The powerful Ramon Chips RC64 many-core DSP features STAR-Dundee IP to provide 12 SpaceFibre ports each offering up to 6.25 Gbit/s data signalling rate. SpaceFibre is being used in Europe, USA, Russia and Japan and has been incorporated in the latest revision of the ANSI/VITA 78 SpaceVPX backplane standard.

Our CTO, Steve Parkes, wrote the SpaceFibre standard with inputs from international spacecraft engineers, and STAR-Dundee has designed, implemented and tested:

In addition, STAR-Dundee has demonstrated the first complete SpaceFibre network representative of spaceflight applications and incorporating radiation tolerant technology. STAR-Dundee owns a patent on the SpaceFibre multi-lane technology, which is being freely licensed for space related applications.

We currently offer several SpaceFibre IP cores and SpaceFibre Test and Development products, with more products to be added to this range in the near future.

2019 Conferences and Trade Shows Begin with IEEE Aerospace

IEEE Aerospace Conference

STAR-Dundee’s attendance at conferences and trade shows in 2019 began with the IEEE Aerospace Conference in Big Sky Montana, which started on March 2nd. Our CTO presented a paper titled “SpaceFibre Interfaces and Architectures” on the 3rd,  while at our booth we demonstrated our latest SpaceWire and SpaceFibre developments, including a new version of our SpaceFibre Router with 12 ports, and the SpaceFibre Camera, featuring a radiation-tolerant (RTG4) FPGA. Images were shown being transferred from the SpaceFibre Camera, over a SpaceFibre network, through the SpaceFibre Router, and received on a PC using the STAR Fire Mk3. The USB 3.0 interface on this unit allows the images to be received at data rates in excess of 1 Gbit/s. At the same time, a slower data feed was routed from SpaceWire to SpaceFibre and then back to SpaceWire. It is straightforward to add SpaceWire traffic into a SpaceFibre network using our SpaceFibre Router, as it offers both SpaceFibre and SpaceWire ports.

Other events where you can meet our team this year and see these great demos include:

Join Our Team!

We are once again recruitiing to expand our team in Dundee and are looking for Electronic Engineers, a PCB Designer and a Mechanical Engineer.  If you’d like to work in the space industry, for a company that values its employees, based in Scotland’s first UNESCO City of Design, then please send us your CV.

Further details on each role are available at the links below:

The jobs are also being advertised by the IET, Space Careers and SpaceCareers.uk.

STAR House Celebrates 200th Anniversary

History of STAR House Report

Since 2012, STAR-Dundee’s team in Dundee have been based in STAR House, a 19th century building in the centre of Dundee. In 2018, the building celebrates its 200th anniversary, having been built in 1818 for James Gray, a merchant and magistrate of Dundee.

We are very grateful to Vivienne Dunstan, the wife of one of our colleagues, who has put together a “History of 166 Nethergate, Dundee, and its inhabitants from 1818 until 2018”. Viv has gone to great lengths to find out about each of the occupants of the building and the changes that have been made to the building over its lifetime.

STAR-Dundee bought the building in 2011 from the University of Dundee and we spent a year renovating it before moving in in the summer of 2012. As well as ensuring it was fit for our needs as a company developing spacecraft technology, we also tried to ensure the building retained its original character. This meant restoring many features which had been covered up or removed, and we now have beautiful wooden floors which were previously covered, while all the windows in the building have been restored to their original Georgian style.

Thanks to Viv’s work, we can now compare the building in its current state to the original plans and the old photos that she has unearthed.

We are very proud of our roots in Dundee and our home in STAR House. Due to its unique character, photos of the building appear in many of our tweets, and it provides a welcoming environment for both employees and visitors alike.

Happy Birthday STAR House!

BepiColombo Mission to Mercury Launched

BepiColombo Mission to Mercury Launched

On 20th October 2018, at 01:45 UT, the BepiColombo mission to Mercury launched from Kourou, French Guiana.  BepiColombo consists of two main spacecraft, both of which make extensive use of SpaceWire for onboard data handling, plus a propulsion module using an ion thruster for the seven year voyage to Mercury orbit.

This joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be the third mission to explore Mercury, following on from NASA’s Mariner 10 (1973) and Messenger (2004).  The European module, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), and the Japanese module, the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), will spend at least one year studying Mercury, one of the most mysterious and little understood planets in our Solar System.

It’s hoped that the observations of the planet’s surface and internal structure, and of its unusually strong magnetic field, will help improve theories of the origin and evolution of our Solar System, and also of the likely nature of planetary systems around other stars.

All of us at STAR-Dundee would like to congratulate the BepiColombo team on the successful development and launch of the mission, and we are grateful for the small part we were able to play in this.

Wideband Spectrometer Presented at UK National Earth Observation Conference

WBS V

Over several years, STAR-Dundee has developed a range of Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) based wideband spectrometers (WBS). The latest of these, WBS V, is a prototype flight board designed in a radiation tolerant FPGA, the Microsemi RTG4. Implemented in the RTG4 is a 1024-point FFT based spectrometer offering processing power in the region of 100 GOPS, enabling operation at 2.4 Gsamples/s.

On Wednesday the 5th of September 2018, STAR-Dundee will be delivering a presentation and poster at the UK National Earth Observation Conference in Birmingham, describing some of the technical details of the WBS V and the unique scientific research that it is being used to perform. The presentation is being held in Room G3 at 10:24, while the poster will be presented from 17:00 to 19:00 in the Great Hall.

Hi-FLY: Improving Space On-board Data Handling and Transfer Capabilities

Hi-FLY Logo

STAR-Dundee is a partner in Hi-FLY, a research project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The aim of Hi-FLY is to develop and validate innovative technologies to remarkably improve space on-board data handling and transfer capabilities, primarily for Earth Observation and partly also for Telecom future missions.  To achieve this goal, Hi-FLY will make substantial advances in all major elements of the data chain including inter-satellite and on-board networks, payload processing, data compression, protection, storage and transmission.

STAR-Dundee’s role includes providing a standard interface, SpaceFibre, to the instruments and elements of the payload data chain. This is scalable to sustain data-rates from 1 Gbit/s to 40 Gbit/s per link and supports very high-speed data transfer and equipment control, configuration and monitoring through the same interface, enhancing overall system reliability. The end to end data chain will support an input data-rate from instruments of 50 Gbit/s and an output data-rate to the downlink of 10 Gbit/s.

The Hi-FLY project partners are:

  • Airbus Defence and Space GMBH
  • Airbus Defence and Space SAS
  • Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co.KG
  • STAR-Dundee Limited
  • University of Dundee
  • Integrated Systems Development S.A.
  • Deutsches Zentrum Luft – und Raumfahrt e.V.
  • Kongsberg Spacetec AS
  • Erzia Technologies SL
  • Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona
  • Ethniko Kai Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon
  • Modus Research and Innovation Limited

Further information on the Hi-FLY project can be found on the Hi-FLY project website, while a video providing an overview of the project is available on the Hi-FLY YouTube channel.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 776151