Today, 18 October 2019. saw the successful launch of the OPS-SAT spacecraft, which was developed and funded by ESA’s General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) through the FLY Element.
In-orbit demonstration is a key goal of FLY. It helps de-risk innovations and accelerate the development of anything and everything that cannot be fully demonstrated on the ground -- in turn ensuring the continued competitiveness of Europe’s space industry, which relies on the timely flight readiness of new space technologies and novel products. FLY gives companies access to the relevant flight environment in the shortest time possible, with all the onboard resources they need to operate.
OPS-SAT is a direct example of this, as it is devoted to demonstrating drastically improved mission control capabilities that will arise when satellites can fly more powerful on-board computers. It consists of a satellite that is only 30cm high but contains an experimental computer ten times more powerful than any current ESA spacecraft. OPS-SAT enables innovative new software, applications and techniques in satellite control to be tested in orbit, at almost no cost. The result is an open, flying 'laboratory' that will be available for in-orbit demonstration of revolutionary new control systems and software that would be too risky to trial on a 'real' satellite. OPS-SAT was launched with ESA's Cheops satellite from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
FLY also provided OPS-SAT with support to ensure programmatic coordination, testing and provision of expertise.