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Simulation Test

13 August 2003

Flight Operations Centre, ESOC Darmstadt (Germany)

While the SMART-1 spacecraft is sitting comfortably on its launcher interface adapter in Kourou, waiting to be lifted atop the Ariane 5 rocket, the Flight Operations team at ESOC is briskly working on the final preparation of orbital operations. The operations to be performed while in orbit are highly complex and need to be fully prepared. The spacecraft not only has to work properly, but the whole ground infrastructure which supports the flight has to be carefully tested and rehearsed.

Flight Control team members during simulations at ESOC in Darmstadt

A series of simulations are currently taking place to test all nominal and contingency operations. The Flight Operations team consists of personnel from ESOC, who are in charge of the computers and software of the Mission Control system, the ground stations, the flight dynamics and the flight control, and personnel from ESTEC and Industry providing expert support concerning the spacecraft design and operations.

Simulation Officers

During simulations, as well as nominal situations, unpredicted situations are also rehearsed. The simulation officer (usually selected from among the team members for his malice and craftiness) intentionally injects simulated failures to test the response of the flight operations team. The team reacts to the events by exercising pre-developed contingency procedures in the most straightforward cases. In more challenging cases, where the injected failure is more subtle and difficult to handle, a briefing meeting is called and the case discussed. The decision on what to do is then approved and authorised jointly by the Flight Operations Director and the Mission Director. These simulations are extremely useful, as they train the team to react positively when unforeseen events occur. It also helps the whole team to work together and act in a concerted way - even in the tensest situations.

Project Support Team

Flight Dynamics Team

So far around ten simulations, attended by the whole operations team, have taken place. A few more will be performed before the launch. Today's simulation was to exercise the first part of the mission: from launcher separation until the spacecraft achieves safe mode.

Upcoming Milestones

14 August - Simulation of the 4th Orbit (ESOC)

Launch delay - new schedule
17 September - SMART-1 and adapter mated on the launcher
22 September - Fairing integration with INSAT
23 September - Upper composite completed to launcher
24 September - Launch vehicle filling
24 September - Dress Rehearsal
25 September - Launch readiness review
26 September - Launcher moved to launch pad
27 September - at 23:04 GMT launch of V162 (A516)


Last Update: 18 February 2004

For further information please contact: SciTech.editorial@esa.int

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