Meet Marco Stelzer, Mission Analyst & Ground Support Equipment Engineer for YES2.
What’s your role at ESA?
I am a Young Graduate Trainee in the ESA Education Office assigned to the YES2 project. I am in charge of the mission analysis and the mission operations for the YES2, where I simulate what happens during the deployment using special software. I also organise the transport for the satellite to Russia where it will be launched. I have designed and developed the Ground Support Equipment.
What’s your role in the YES2 project?
As the Mission Analyst I only now have think about the in-flight operations that will happen during the mission itself. We won’t know the orbital parameters of the Foton space craft until it’s in orbit, so I’ll have to do some calculations in real time to know when to send instructions (telecommands) from Foton to YES2 for the different stages of the tether deployment. I also have to create the contingency options so I can counter-act anything that might occur during the mission.
As the Ground Support Equipment Engineer I make sure that the satellite will work as it was designed to. To do this I use special equipment that sends and receives telemetry to YES2 like Russian Mission Control would. I am also able to see and check all the functions of the satellite itself. Ground support work is mostly done during the later interface tests and checks before launch. It’s basically to make sure that all the systems survived transport to Baikonur and that the YES2 on-board systems are functioning in concert with the Foton systems up until the launch.
What are you working on at the moment on YES2?
I am preparing a part of the software we have to upload to the YES2 on-board systems. It concerns the parameters the satellite will have to use for the deployment of the 30 km of tether. There is a friction brake on the FLOYD module, which slows down the tether at certain points so that it follows a pre-determined profile. With this friction brake we can guide the deployment of the tether reasonably precisely. This and some other pieces of data are part of a small file that we have to upload to the on-board computer. I am optimising the in-flight operations so that they are precise, reliable and fast.
What’s the next major step?
The next step in the process will be the final interface test in Baikonur. Now that YES2 is mounted on Foton, we will have to make sure that Foton will receive the YES2 telemetry. Then the telecommands received by Foton have to pass to YES2 in the proper way, and YES2 operations should not interfere with any of the other payloads on Foton.