News

STAR-Dundee Exhibiting at 30th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites

Small Satellite Conference 2016 Demo

STAR-Dundee is once again exhibiting at the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah, USA.  Visit us at Booth Space 31 on the second floor to see our latest SpaceWire and SpaceFibre products.  On one side of the booth we are demonstrating our new SpaceFibre router PXI cards.  These are connected to Microsemi RTG4 devices through an FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre Board hosting both SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP.  On the other side of the booth we are demonstrating the powerful triggering capabilities of the Brick Mk3.

SpaceFibre Routing Demonstrated at SEE/MAPLD and Space Tech Expo

SEE/MAPLD and Space Tech Expo logos

STAR-Dundee exhibited at two events in California in the week beginning 23rd of May.  From the 24th until the 25th we were at the 25th Annual Single Event Effects (SEE) Symposium coupled with the Military and Aerospace Programmable Logic Devices (MAPLD) Workshop in La Jolla, San Diego.  In parallel, from the 24th to the 26th we were also in Pasadena at Space Tech Expo 2016.

At both events we had some of our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre products on display, including a demonstration of the SpaceFibre protocol running on the Microsemi RTG4 FPGA connected to our FMC SpaceWire/SpaceFibre Board.  We also demonstrated our new SpaceFibre Routers at SEE/MAPLD on the 24th and at Space Tech Expo on the 25th and 26th.  This demonstration highlights the features of SpaceFibre which make it ideal for many space applications:

  • High data rates – 2.5 Gbits/s links, plus multi-laning support.
  • SpaceWire compatibility – STAR Fire units are used to interconnect SpaceWire and SpaceFibre.
  • Low cable mass – Both flight and lab cables are used in the demonstration.
  • Quality of service – Multiple traffic streams are multiplexed over a single SpaceFibre link, with each stream assigned a percentage of the bandwidth.
  • Fault Detection, Isolation and Recovery – Cables can be removed and the retry mechanism ensures the destination encounters no errors.

SpaceFibre Multi-Laning Premiered at DASIA 2016

Demonstration of multi-laning at DASIA 2016

STAR-Dundee has demonstrated the advanced multi-laning capabilities of the SpaceFibre protocol. This allows several lanes to operate in parallel to provide enhanced throughput. For example, with four lanes running at 2.5 Gbits/s each and aggregate throughput of 10 Gbits/s is achieved. SpaceFibre multi-laning can operate with any number of lanes, from 1 to 16. Each lane is normally bi-directional, but to support spaceflight instruments with very high-data rate in one direction and to save mass and power, it is possible to have some uni-directional lanes in a multi-lane link, provided that at least one lane is bi-directional. SpaceFibre multi-laning also supports graceful degradation in the event of a lane failure. If a lane fails, the multi-lane link will rapidly reconfigure to use the remaining lanes so that important (high priority) information can still get through. It takes a couple of microseconds for this reconfiguration to occur, which happens without loss of information. Clearly, with reduced bandwidth some information will not be sent over the link, but this will be less important, low priority, information. If a redundant lane is available in the link, it can be enabled and full capacity operation will resume. SpaceFibre IP cores and test equipment are available from STAR-Dundee. The SpaceFibre ECSS standard is due to be published by the end of 2016.

The photograph shows multi-laning capability of SpaceFibre being demonstrated to spacecraft engineers at the DASIA 2016 conference held in May in Tallinn, Estonia. A four lane link was demonstrated with low priority high bandwidth traffic flowing over some virtual channels and high priority video data over another virtual channel. Lanes were unplugged with corresponding loss in bandwidth, but the link continued to operate sending the “critical” video data without interruption. Only when all four lanes were unplugged, did the video data stream cease. As soon as any of the four lanes were plugged back in, the video stream continued once more.

STAR-Dundee and Microsemi Collaboration

Microsemi logo

STAR-Dundee is to collaborate with Microsemi to provide SpaceWire and SpaceFibre network technology using Microsemi’s RTG4 high-speed signal processing radiation-tolerant field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

“We are pleased to be working with Microsemi and leverage our unrivalled expertise to help the company expand the growing adoption of RTG4 FPGAs in SpaceWire and SpaceFibre applications,” said our CEO, Steve Parkes. “Our commitment is to ensure our customers can begin working with our technologies as quickly as possible, and utilizing Microsemi’s innovative RTG4 FPGAs can help the industry achieve this easily.”

STAR-Dundee is a Microsemi FPGA & SoC Partner, offering SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP for Microsemi radiation tolerant FPGAs including the RTAX and RTG4 devices.

Further details are provided in Microsemi’s news release on the collaboration.

Information on the services that STAR-Dundee provides for Microsemi devices can be found on our STAR-Dundee Microsemi Partner page.  Also available on this page is a video featuring our CEO, demonstrating our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP on the RTG4.

Sentinel-3A

Iberian Peninsula

ESA’s Sentinel-3A was successfully launched on the 16th of February. On board it has four instruments: Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR), Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL) and Microwave Radiometer (MWR). Amongst other marine and Earth observation applications, these instruments will allow Sentinel-3A to map sea-level change and surface temperature, perform water quality management and monitor vegetation health. 

Three point-to-point SpaceWire links are used between the higher data rate OLCI, SLSTR and SRAL instruments and the Sentinel-3A payload data handling unit (PDHU). 

The image shown features Spain, Portugal and North Africa and is one of the first images taken by the OLCI instrument.  

For more information please see the ESA Sentinel-3 website. 

Image © Copernicus data (2016)

ExoMars Mission 2016

ExoMars 2016 fairing release image

The start of a new era of Mars exploration for Europe is planned to begin on the 14th of March 2016 with the launch of the ExoMars 2016 mission. The ExoMars 2016 mission consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, and is a joint venture between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. TGO will study the atmosphere of Mars. Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies for entry, decent and landing on Mars.

ESA has long used SpaceWire for payload data handling and the Trace Gas Orbitor is another example of this. The second ExoMars mission is planned for launch in 2018, and comprises a rover and a surface science platform. The rover will use SpaceWire extensively to interconnect various instruments, mass memory and processors.

For more information please see the ESA Robotic Exploration of Mars website.

Image © ESA/ATG medialab

Astro-H Launch

Astro-H Media Presentation Image

Astro-H was successfully launched on 17th February 2016. Astro-H (now known as Hitomi) is an X-ray astronomy satelite commissioned by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that extensively uses SpaceWire and the Remote Memory Access Protocol (RMAP). It was created to study the hot and energentic Universe, and will probe the sky in the X-ray and gamma-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. For more information please see the JAXA Astro-H mission website.

Image © JAXA.

STAR-Dundee Sponsors FSW-15 at JHU

SpaceFibre and SpaceWire Demo using the RTG4

STAR-Dundee is delighted to sponsor the 2015 Workshop on Spacecraft Flight Software, hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland from October 27th to 29th, 2015.

Our Managing Director will be presenting a paper on SpaceFibre, covering the standard and its features, and the implementations already available. We are also demonstrating both SpaceWire and SpaceFibre running on the Microsemi RTG4 in the lobby of Building 200. This demonstration makes use of the STAR Fire and new SpaceWire Brick Mk3 devices.

STAR-Dundee Participates in Microsemi Space Forum

SpaceWire/SpaceFibre Demo

STAR-Dundee is delighted to be participating in each of the Microsemi Space Forum events taking place in the United States, Europe and India over the summer of 2015. At each event we are showcasing a demonstrator we’ve developed which includes both our SpaceWire IP Core and SpaceFibre IP Core running in the new Microsemi RTG4 radiation hardened FPGA family.

The demonstrator interconnects two RTG4 development boards each featuring a STAR-Dundee FMC daughterboard specifically designed for the RTG4 boards. Each FMC board features four SpaceWire ports and two SpaceFibre ports and an aggregate bandwidth in excess of 5 Gbps. Other STAR-Dundee products are also used in the demo, such as the STAR Fire unit and the new SpaceWire Brick Mk3. One STAR Fire unit is used in interface mode as a high speed SpaceFibre data generator (2.5 Gbps) sending and receiving data through the RTG4 boards to saturate the SpaceFibre link. Another STAR Fire unit is used in analyser mode to capture data travelling over SpaceFibre between the RTG4 boards. In parallel, one computer is used as a lower speed SpaceWire source, sending data in one direction to a remote computer. At the same time, this remote computer is sending a webcam video feed through SpaceWire back to the SpaceWire source PC. A SpaceWire Brick Mk3 is used by each computer to send and receive the SpaceWire packets to/from the RTG4 boards.

All the SpaceWire data packets (SpaceWire low data rate and webcam stream) are routed over SpaceFibre virtual channels.  The rate at which these packets are transmitted is not affected by the STAR Fire high data rate packets as the bandwidth provided to a virtual channel can be configured in SpaceFibre. Thanks to its high speed together with its inbuilt Quality of Service (QoS) and Fault Detection and Isolation (FDIR) capabilities, SpaceFibre allows the reduction of system complexity, substantially reducing cable harness mass and simplifying redundancy strategies.

The embedded high-speed SerDes and the dedicated SpaceWire clock recovery circuits located inside the RTG4 FPGAs are used in the demonstration, proving that STAR-Dundee IP cores are fully compatible with Microsemi’s new RTG4 technology.

Congratulations to GC Micro for landing a prestigious NASA Contract Award!

GC Micro logo

GC Micro Corporation, STAR-Dundee’s representative in the USA, has been rewarded for its commitment to performance excellence and outstanding customer focus by winning a NASA Contract Award to supply information technology products and complex computerised solutions to the US federal government over the next 10 years. This did not come as a complete surprise as they recently received the Boeing Performance Excellence Award for the 6th consecutive year.

GC Micro is an IT business that has provided products and services to NASA and all the major companies in the Space and Aerospace industry since 1986. It is through these connections that GC Micro has proven to be a very strong partner in championing STAR-Dundee products in the US for over 8 years.

Congratulations to the GC Micro team!