Swedish Space Corporation relies on WSI’s radio expertise

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Swedish Space Corporation relies on WSI’s radio expertise

On June 15, 2010, the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) launched the Prisma satellite system, Europe’s first mission with formation flying as the principal objective. SSC contracted WSI to manage the development of all radio systems for the satellites, including the extremely important radio link between the satellite system and the ground station, as well as the radio link between the two satellites and the GPS system.

The Swedish Space Corporation is a leading global provider of advanced space services with more than 50 years of experience. Since its pioneering scientific rocket launches in northern Sweden, the organization has grown into a full-service supplier of state-of-the-art space engineering, satellite and launch services to commercial and institutional customers.

Testing rendezvous and formation flying in space

The Prisma mission aimed to demonstrate different sensor technologies and guidance navigation strategies for rendezvous and formation flying in space. The project consisted of two spacecraft, one highly maneuverable called Mango, and one called Tango.

Mango was equipped with several sensor systems, including GPS, a vision-based camera and a radio frequency-based navigation instrument, along with advanced guidance, navigation and control algorithms.

“Our biggest challenge with this project was to meet the full specifications for the radio link from the satellite system to the ground station,” says Jonas Strandell, COO at WSI. “If this radio link stopped working, millions of euros spent on the project would be wasted.”

Developing a very robust, high-performing solution

The WSI team had to make sure that the system design could withstand the very tough conditions put on devices sent into space. In addition to the radio systems, WSI was also responsible for ensuring that the satellite system fulfilled all electromagnet compatibly requirements.

“We were extremely careful and thorough with the hardware verification,” says Strandell. “We needed to ensure that performance could be met in extreme environmental conditions and over time. Our skills in project management, our great understanding of radio design, and our experience in regulatory compliance helped make this project a success.”

On-time launch with superior radio performance

As a result of the collaboration and expertise of all partners, the satellite system was launched on time and could be used as intended. The Mango and Tango satellites were able to maintain formation flying with high precision. In October 2010, the satellites succeeded in flying at a range of about seven meters apart.

“It was exciting to work with the extreme technical requirements for these devices,” says Strandell. “It was very rewarding when the satellite system was launched, and even more rewarding when the radio link was established.”