News

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!

Another big turnout from STAR-Dundee at the SpaceWire Conference in Athens, Greece

SpaceWire Conference in Athens, Greece

With the Acropolis in the distance, and amidst the glorious sun and sand of the Greek Riviera, another successful SpaceWire Conference took place.

The conference provided the opportunity to showcase the SpaceWire Physical Layer Tester at the STAR-Dundee exhibition stand. This is the first device on the market to test the Physical and Signal Levels of the SpaceWire standard. It can test the tolerance of a SpaceWire device to degraded LVDS by allowing the amount of skew, jitter, slew, swing and common mode voltage of the LVDS signals to be adjusted, either independently or collectively through a set of simple yet powerful GUIs.

Also presented were the latest LabVIEW and RTEMS driver developments.

The new SpaceWire LabVIEW (VISA) Driver has been introduced to meet the growing demand from our customers that wish to use our popular SpaceWire cPCI Mk2 in their NI racks. Whilst not yet making it onto the Product catalogue the driver is already proving a popular addition to the driver set.

The SpaceWire RTEMS Driver presentation drew much discussion about the tribulations of supporting the LEON3 for this RTOS used in many space applications. The RTEMS development for the LEON3 is the forerunner for the release later this year in support of the AT6981, a new processor borne from the partnership between STAR-Dundee and ATMEL. The AT6981 is the first of a new generation of powerful Space flight processors that offload IO tasks to dedicated protocol engines including 4 on-board state-of-the-art STAR-Dundee SpaceWire engines. The first AT6981 development board was on display at the ATMEL exhibition stand.

Of particular significance were two sessions dedicated to SpaceFibre. Short and long papers were presented on a variety of subjects; the latest updates to the protocol including multi-laning, new cable designs, the results of comparative studies of the multi-gigabit technology, and experiences of early adopters on the use of the integrated QoS mechanisms and extensive FDIR.

The conference proceedings are now available to conference attendees on the SpaceWire Conference website and will be generally available from April next year.

STAR-Dundee Scoop Scottish Business of the Year!

Business of the Year!!!

To crown another successful year, STAR-Dundee received the Scottish Business of the Year (Under 25 employees).

On Thursday 11th September the Scottish Chambers of Commerce held its inaugural Scottish Business Honours 2014 ceremony in Edinburgh. The occasion takes the winning businesses from local Chambers of Commerce from all over Scotland and showcases the best of Scottish businesses at this nationwide ceremony.

STAR-Dundee not only received one award but were also a shortlisted Finalist for Most Innovative Company. These acclamations are not only great recognition for the success of STAR-Dundee within the Scottish business community over the years, but also for all the endeavours of the great team at STAR House.

Image courtesy of Scottish Chambers of Commerce / John Linton Photography.

STAR-Dundee is Recruiting!

Talented Software Engineers required!

We have an exciting opportunity for experienced Software Developers to help shape our expanding product portfolio.

Following a very successful year that was crowned by winning the Courier Business of the Year 2013 award, and to support the continued growth of a busy company, STAR-Dundee is currently looking to expand our software team. Successful candidates will join a dynamic software design team working on software for spacecraft embedded systems, specialised test tools, and drivers, APIs and graphical applications to configure and control spacecraft test and development equipment.

If you’re interested in applying for a software engineer role, the job description can be found at the following link: http://www.reed.co.uk/jobs/spacecraft-software-engineer/24193773

Marketing Assistant required!

We are also seeking a Marketing Assistant to help market our range of products for the international space industry, joining the business development team to fulfil a varied and creative role.

More information, including application details, can be downloaded here: Marketing Assistant.

STAR-Dundee new technology presented at FSW 2013 at CalTech

NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs' Mars Yard complete with Curiosity rover

The Californian sun gave a welcome break from the snow left behind in Scotland during attendance of FSW-13 at CalTech and a visit to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs.

The 2013 Workshop on Spacecraft Flight Software (FSW-13) was a very interesting insight into the hardware and software activity within the USA space community. The workshop provides an opportunity to present and discuss current spaceflight architectures, novel approaches to mission solutions, and techniques for flight software development, integration, test and verification.

Managing Director Steve Parkes presented 3 papers:

  • SpaceFibre: Multi-Gbits/s Network for Spaceflight Applications
  • AT6981 – A High Performance Processor for Space Applications
  • SpaceWire EGSE: Real-time instrument simulation in a day

The built-in features of both SpaceFibre and the AT6981 processor are hitting the right spots for the NASA next generation of spacecraft architecture.

SpaceFibre builds on the flight proven capability of SpaceWire by providing multi-gigabit network capability taking data rates to 2.5Gbits/s single channel and >20Gbits/s multi-channel whilst also greatly enhancing the fault tolerance and adding quality of service mechanisms. This aligns SpaceWire technologies as a serious proposition for future spacecraft data communications and mission critical applications.

The AT6981, a new SpaceWire enabled flight processor with SPARCv8 core, is currently being designed in partnership with Atmel. It provides mechanisms specifically designed to save on both CPU usage and power consumption. Three on-board SpaceWire interfaces use DMA engines to offload the data handling from the CPU returning valuable processing power to be applied to more mission critical and computationally demanding tasks. The ability of each of the functional blocks of the AT6981 to be selectively powered off within the core supports the move to reduce power consumption required by on-board equipment further meeting requirements designed to prolong the usable life of the spacecraft.

The SpaceWire EGSE has been proving to be a very useful time-saving device with the ability to create real-time hardware simulation of missing instrumentation in a matter of 1 or 2 days during system integration, and as a SpaceWire traffic generator as part of a development test suite or mission EGSE system.

There was a very interesting keynote speech by the creators of an autonomous ocean-going vehicle. They shared their experiences and specific problems encountered, including the use of satellite bandwidth .. at least we won’t need to reroute cabling on satellites and rovers to avoid damage from great white sharks!

Information about the Workshops for Spaceflight Software can be found here.

All FSW-13 presentations were recorded and are available at the FSW-2013 Video Portal.

STAR-System V2.2 released!

STAR-System V2.2

STAR-Dundee has now released V2.2 of their STAR-System software stack.

New Features for STAR-System V2.2

Languages and Environments:

  • Cygwin support in Windows release
  • LabVIEW now released! (available separately)

Operating Systems:

  • Linux kernels up to 3.11

 

Supported devices:

  • SpaceWire-USB Brick Mk2
  • SpaceWire Router Mk2S
  • SpaceWire PCI Mk2, cPCI Mk2
  • SpaceWire PCIe
  • SpaceWire Physical Layer Tester (available soon)

 

GUIs and Applications improvements:

  • Device Config App: Errors on ports are now highlighted by changing the colour of the tab’s text to red
  • Device Config App: Clicking the Refresh button does not change the tab on display. Changing the device being displayed also does not change the tab

 

A more comprehensive list and description of STAR-System is available here.

The latest STAR-System release can be downloaded from the Support website for customers that have registered devices. If you don’t have access, register your device, follow the link to our Technical Support home page and follow the instructions to obtain a username and password.

STAR-Dundee receive local accolade: Business of the Year 2013

Business of the Year - STAR-Dundee
John Stevenson. Courier. 01/11/13. Fife, St Andrews, The Fairmont Hotel, The Courier Business Awards Ceremony. Business of the Year. STAR- Dundee Ltd. Pic shows l/r winner Steve Parkes.

Fireworks were flying over STAR House a few days before Bonfire Night when STAR-Dundee was announced winner of the most prestigious award at the inaugural Courier Business Awards 2013: Business of the Year 2013.

The awards have been created to celebrate the thriving business community of East-Central Scotland, home of The Courier.  Companies of all sizes, and from all walks of the business community were represented from life-sciences and tourism, to agriculture and retail. STAR-Dundee was recognised for its success and continued growth over the past 10 years.

Image courtesy of © The Courier Business Awards / John Stevenson.