The Simulation-to-Flight 1 (STF-1) CubeSat mission aims to demonstrate how legacy simulation technologies may be adapted for flexible and effective use on missions using the CubeSat platform. These technologies, named NASA Operational Simulator (NOS), have demonstrated significant value on several missions such as James Webb Space Telescope, Global Precipitation Measurement, Juno, and Deep Space Climate Observatory in the areas of software development, mission operations/training, verification and validation (V&V), test procedure development and software systems check-out. STF-1 will demonstrate a highly portable simulation and test platform that allows seamless transition of mission development artifacts to flight products. This environment will decrease development time of future CubeSat missions by lessening the dependency on hardware resources. In addition, through a partnership between NASA GSFC, the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and West Virginia University, the STF-1 CubeSat will host payloads for three secondary objectives that aim to advance engineering and physical-science research in the areas of navigation systems of small satellites, provide useful data for understanding magnetosphere ionosphere coupling and space weather, and verify the performance and durability of III-V Nitride-based materials.
The mission is progressing on schedule and targeting a late 2016 launch. Our initial launch opportunity in November 2016 was not acquired, so the team will continue to work while pursuing another launch opportunity with the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). The team still has plenty of work to do. Following a successful Table Top Review in April 2015 the team identified the major components for the spacecraft bus and began procurement. The GOMSpace Nanomind A3200 flight computer, and SolAero Tech solar cells have arrived. We are currently awaiting the delivery of the UHF radio and antenna, spacecraft chassis, and our electrical power systems. Not all of the components are COTS, so the team has carefully designed solar panels and interface cards by leveraging the lessons learned from other GSFC CubeSats. A clean room and lab space have also been secured to be used for the integration and testing of the spacecraft.
The flight software (FSW) for STF-1 is currently in development. The team has branched from the default version of GSFC’s Core Flight Software (cFE/CFS), and has begun integrating applications used on the Dellingr CubeSat mission. CFS has been integrated with the ITC developed simulation software, NOS Engine, to allow for simulation of hardware components either not yet acquired, or still in development. An initial version of the STF-1 Advanced CubeSat Simulation Library (ACSL) was provided, along with a development environment, to the WVU science teams in July. The STF-1 team plans to continue maturing the ACSL as more fidelity is needed to support the FSW development.
Ground Systems support will be provided by NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility located on the coast of Virginia. The STF-1 team has chosen to use the same communications hardware as the other GSFC CubeSats so that ground station support is the same across missions. The 18M dish at Wallops will provide the team with up to 3.0Mbps downlink speed.
When Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997) discovered a tiny object on a pair of photographic plates, one has to wonder if he could have foreseen that it would take 62 more years to find another object in the distant solar system or that it would lead to a yet to be discovered region of space. In 1930, rocketry was still in its infancy and deep space travel was the work of popular science fiction. Therefore, it would have been a far off dream for Tombaugh to think about visiting his discovery, which we now know as Pluto. However, on July 14, 2015, that is exactly what he will do, when the New Horizons spacecraft makes a Flyby of the Pluto-Charon system. New Horizons is carrying a sample of Tombaugh’s ashes donated to the mission by his wife, Patricia Tombaugh (1912–2012), to commemorate his discovery of Pluto.
For people that grew up in the educational system of the United States prior to 1992, Pluto was always the Ninth planet from the Sun and an anomaly when compared to the rest of the planets in our solar system. The Inner planets are characterized by being similar rocky bodies that are relatively close to the sun. Next there were the Outer planets, consisting of large gaseous planets with tumultuous atmospheres. Then there was Pluto; a small planet rotating around the sun in an elliptical orbit that was out of plane with the rest of the planets. The questions of why Pluto was different were not able to be answered until technology allowed for better views of deep space. In 1992, The first trans-Neptunian object since Pluto and Charon was discovered in 1992 and since then more than 1,500 objects have been identified. This region is characterized by small ice worlds that orbit the sun in vast number of Astronomical Units beyond Pluto and has been called the Kuiper Belt.
The idea to send a probe to visit the region started to form in the early-1990’s. And although there were many proposals for missions that would visit the small planet, it wasn’t until NASA established as part of the New Frontiers program that a stable stream of funding was made available to fund such a mission. It was in this climate that the New Horizons mission was born. Led by Alan Stern as Principle Investigator, New Horizons is a joint effort between the South West Research Institute and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). APL provides for the mission management of the spacecraft.
New Horizons was launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket with second and third stages to provide it the necessary velocity to be the first spacecraft launched directly into a solar escape trajectory. The primary goals of the mission are to map the surface composition and to characterize the global geology and atmosphere of Pluto. This data will help provide context for the formulation of the Pluto system and establish some understanding of its role in the formation of the early solar system. Its extended mission is to encounter one or more objects in the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto and conduct similar data collection exercises.
In order to accomplish these goals, the spacecraft has a suite of seven science instruments.
Alice is an ultraviolet spectrometer used for measuring gas composition
Ralph combines an infrared spectrometer (LEISA) for mapping surface composition with a color optical imager (MVIC) for mapping surface structure and composition
REX is a radio experiment for measuring atmospheric composition and temperature
LORRI is an optical telescope that provides the highest resolution imaging of the surface
PEPSSI is a plasma-sensing instrument for measuring particles escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere
SWAP is a plasma-sensing instrument for measuring the properties of the solar wind at Pluto, Pluto’s atmospheric escape rate, and for searching for a magnetosphere around Pluto. The “solar wind” is a stream of charged particles streaming away from the Sun at high speed.
SDC, an instrument used to measure dust impacts at the New Horizons spacecraft during its entire trajectory, was built by students at the University of Colorado!
To get a sense of the size of the spacecraft, it is possible to see a scale model of it hanging in the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the National Air & Space Museum Annex at Dulles International Airport. The spacecraft has been compared to the size of a baby grand piano.
Subsequent to the launch of New Horizons, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto from planet to dwarf planet status. However, this does not diminish the historical nature of the mission. The science data collected will greatly enhance the science communities understanding of Pluto, be able to validate assumptions and speculations about its surface features and compositions, and hopefully inspire the next generation of deep space scientists.
My Recollections of New Horizons IV&V
The IV&V planning and scoping efforts for the New Horizons mission began in late 2002. The CARA process was used in establishing the scope of the analyses performed. It was determined that Command and Data Handling (C&DH), Guidance, Navigation & Control (GN&C) and the Ralph instrument were to receive full life-cycle IV&V. There were two instruments which were determined to be of sufficiently low risk and not significant contributors to the primary science goals and therefore were not provided any IV&V coverage. Those were the REX and SDC instruments. The remainder of the instruments suite were addressed via IV&V requirements and test analysis activities. There was also some initial work performed on the Ground Software, but it was high reuse and it was determined that further work in that area would not be productive use of IV&V efforts.
One of the tasks performed during the New Horizons test campaign was an analysis of the Comprehensive Performance tests. This required additional IV&V analysis resources to be added to support the timely analysis of that large set of test artifacts. This type of analysis was needed due to the way that APL had structured their acceptance testing, for which IV&V had generated a risk. They had placed requirements verification into the system test world where it was exercised in a more day in the life kind of way.
Due to the tight constraints that were placed on the launch window, APL decided to slip functionality to a post-launch upload. They had one period that extended in January 2006 and allowed for the Jupiter Gravitational Assist and one that was in February 2006 that was a direct to Pluto launch and would have added four years to the time line (missing those two would have been a significant launch delay). They ended up making the window for the gravitational assist. Therefore, we performed C&DH and GN&C analysis post-launch, primarily this was code analysis and final test analysis. I believe there were two in-flight issues with the GN&C processor, which we supported. Ultimately, one was determined to be in the Detection and Correction Code (EDAC) hardware and the other was a problem with the autocoder.
Over the 9 year history of the mission, there were only two safe mode entries, that I am aware of. One occurred back in 2007 and was similar to the GN&C reset related to EDAC hardware. The other happened July 4th and appeared to come from trying to use the software differently than originally intended. The original operations philosophy was that they would start N number of weeks prior to the fly-by and start taking data. They would keep taking data until about the same N number of weeks past the fly-by (part of that was the occultation data collection and some radio experiment), then compress, then downlink. Downlink was to take on the order of nine months. Over the years, it seems they have revamped their operational plans based on the lessons learned from their Jupiter fly-by and from yearly encounter planning meetings. So when the safe mode entry happened, they were uploading a command sequence, while taking data and compressing data, so the sequencing got overwhelmed.
I find this mission fascinating. In the time that New Horizons has been cruising to Pluto, I was married, my son was born, I watched him learn to crawl, learn to talk, learn to walk, lost my wife, and have seen my son complete nearly a quarter of his schooling. I hope this event inspires kids of his age to aspire to be the next generation of discovery leaders.
Van Casdorph Systems Engineer
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program
The development of the first CubeSat to be built in the state of West Virginia, Simulation-to-Flight 1 (STF-1), is underway. On April 30, 2015, the STF-1 development team held its first table-top review to walk through the mission plan, technical objectives, components, budgets (mass, power, volume, communications, and cost), risks and schedule. The team also identified all major system components. These components include the GOMspace A3200 on-board computer, L-3 Cadet radio, batteries and electrical power system from Clydespace and Pumpkin 3U Chassis. This review was a huge success!
In addition, in late April 2015, the STF-1 team was contacted by the NASA Education Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) effort, with respect to a potential launch opportunity, and could launch as early as November 2016. The team is anxiously waiting to hear if we have a launch.
In the meantime, the STF-1 team is pushing forward. The team is actively working on power simulations to ensure there is sufficient power generation to support all mission objectives, development of an Advanced CubeSat Simulation Library (ACSL), initiating development of all four science instruments, and beginning to purchase spacecraft components.
The development and demonstration of the ACSL is the primary mission objective and is aimed to reduce hardware reliance and provide a rapidly deployable CubeSat development and test environment. We are excited about our simulation approach and will go into more details later as the architecture matures. In the meantime, take some time and submit your best ideas to design the Mission Patch for West Virginia’s first CubeSat in SPACE!
Name: Georgette Ball Home Town: Fairmont, W.Va. High School Attended: Fairmont Senior High School College: West Virginia University Major: Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Why you applied for a NASA internship? I applied for a NASA internship because I have always been intrigued by government services and wanted to have this opportunity to broaden my knowledge. My goal is to pursue a government related engineering job and I believe NASA would be a great opportunity to gain experience and come closer to attaining that goal. What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? I am working with the WV Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT) as a presentation developer. Programs such as SPOT are great organizations that reach out to younger generations and ignite interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. What do you like most about working for NASA? If I had to choose what I like most so far it would definitely be the people and culture here at NASA IV&V. I feel very welcomed here and everyone is so helpful.
Name: Samuel Takington Home Town: Clarksburg, W.Va. High School Attended: Notre Dame High School Why you applied for a NASA internship? Applying for a NASA internship gave me the opportunity to practice my skills with science and computer programming, which continue to grow daily. I applied expecting a great opportunity to interact with individuals who you genuinely feel are contributing to the betterment of humanity’s scientific endeavors. It’s an excellent college reference, and it’s simply an awesome experience that I will remember for years to come. What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? This Summer I am working with the Space Launch System rocket engines team. The SLS is the “next generation” of rocketry that will, when completed, be responsible for the next manned space missions based out of America. I am helping to ensure that the algorithms behind the engine itself are sound and correct by creating applications in Java to automatically validate the math. It’s thrilling to be part of such a large picture, and to be tangibly contributing to the safety of America’s next astronauts. What do you like most about working for NASA? The atmosphere is fairly relaxed and suited to my personality. It’s nice to be surrounded by like-minded people who share a passion for science and other similar interests.
Name: Cortney Mercer Home Town: Morgantown, WV High School Attended/College: University High School/West Virginia University in the fall of 2014, planning to study mechanical and aerospace engineering Why you applied for a NASA internship? I have always been interested in STEM fields and interested in space flight, I hope to work for NASA, another space organization or an underwater robotics company in the future. This opportunity just helps me reach for my goals! What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? I am working with the Robotics Capabilities Development (CD) here at NASA IV&V to build a test-bed as well as develop procedures to perform verification and validation on computer vision software. I will be working with other high school and college interns here at the facility, as well as the members of the Robotic CD team to test different computer vision algorithms, this will be useful in situations such as asteroid redirect and automated satellite repair. What do you like most about working for NASA? I like working for NASA because it gives me the opportunity to talk to experienced people in a field that I am interested in, it gives me the opportunity to learn about my potential career.
Name: Nick Ohi Home Town: Morgantown, WV High School Attended: Homeschooled College Attending: West Virginia University Semester/Year: Entering Senior Year / Finished Junior Year Major: Dual Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Why you applied for a NASA internship? I have always been very interested in space and everything STEM related. I would like to work for NASA or another organization involved in spaceflight for my career, so this opportunity allows me to gain experience pursuing that goal. What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? My project is to work with the Robotics Capabilities Development (CD) team here at IV&V and develop a test-bed and document procedures for doing IV&V on robotic systems that involve computer vision. I will be working with other college and high school interns as well as member of the Robotics CD team test different computer vision algorithms in scenarios such as automated satellite repair and asteroid redirection. What do you like most about working for NASA? Not only does this internship opportunity provide me with valuable experience towards my career goals, I really enjoy the work environment here at IV&V. Everyone, from the other interns to the permanent employees are all great people to work with.
Name: Esha Halabe Home Town: Morgantown, West Virginia High School Attended: Morgantown High School College Attending: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York Semester: 1st Semester Freshman Major: Materials Science and Chemical Engineering Why you applied for a NASA internship? I applied for a NASA internship to apply my learned textbook theory to real-world problems, to gain hands-on engineering practice in a professional work environment, and to explore various STEM fields. What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Observatory relies on a robust Fault Management system. To verify and validate that system, I am helping the IV&V team generate a Database and Test Bed to analyze JWST’s many system and subsystem components. The goal of my project is to add to the overall assurance of the Fault Management system. What do you like most about working for NASA? The best part about working for NASA is getting to be a part of such a hardworking and innovative team. We’re working toward developing groundbreaking systems and technology, and I’m learning something new every day.
Name: Katherine Warner Home Town: Morgantown High School Attended/College: University High School/currently enrolled at West Virginia University, studying electrical engineering. She is in her sophomore year. Why you applied for a NASA internship? I wanted to learn more about NASA and the work it does, explore potential careers with the agency, and get some “real-world” experience to help find the best career for me. What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? I am comparing the simulation environments that test/will test MPCVs like Orion, the one being launched in December, before they are launched to ensure everything runs as it should in every situation. What do you like most about working for NASA? The atmosphere is so much more than what I expected- to be honest I did not expect much so I wouldn’t be too impressed or displeased- and I cannot wait to spend most of my summer around such great people learning from knowledgeable but approachable and personable mentors.
Name: Katherine Reid
Home Town: Bridgeport, W.Va. High School or College: Bridgeport High School Why you applied for a NASA Internship? Since childhood, I have been fascinated with the study of space. One day I hope to have a career with NASA, and this internship was the perfect opportunity to begin that journey. What are you doing for NASA? I am working with the Ground Systems Development and Operations team (GSDO) for the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The GSDO program is the development effort that is aimed at upgrading a majority of the Kennedy Space Center Ground Systems to ensure that the center is ready to support future launches (both government and commercial) in the post-shuttle era. What do you like most about working for NASA? It has given me a chance to work alongside professionals with experience in the field I want to pursue, aerospace engineering. I love the daily challenges and the opportunity to work with students who also share my passion for space exploration.
Name: Joshua Hiett Home Town: Bloomery, W.Va. High School: Hampshire High School Why you applied for a NASA internship? I applied to gain the opportunity to expand my educational horizon and to open a career pathway towards a job field that I am extremely interested in continuing for the remainder of my life. What are you doing for NASA? I will be working to improve a 4 wheeled all-terrain surface rover platform, Rover-X, which was built in 2012. My job is to redesign Rover-X’s software architecture from a manual computer input system into a field testable system utilizing an Xbox gamming controller to control the rover’s basic motor and robotic arm manipulation capabilities, and develop a central control station for camera feedback. What do you like most about working for NASA? The environment is what I like most about working for NASA. There are so many opportunities to get first-hand experience with a vast number of people and network. There is a high level of energy within the staff and other interns here and everyone is polite and helpful. I am also looking forward to the many challenges to come within my internship and overcoming them with the help of my mentor.
When the interns first arrived at NASA’s IV&V Program, we wanted to make sure that their experience here would be shared. We decided to pull together a few questions and asked the interns to give us the inside scoop on why they chose to apply at NASA. Here are a few of the results.
Name: Dalton Okel Home Town: Fairmont, W.Va. High School or College: Fairmont Senior High School and hopes to study aerospace engineering and computer science West Virginia University Why you applied for a NASA internship? In previous years, I had been informed about the internship from previous interns Savannah Sims and Josh McPherson. When they described the projects they were working on to me, it interested me to look into the opportunity more. The projects they told me about were dealing with the fields of math and science, ranging from computer programming to robotics, which are my strongest fields in academics. After reading multiple descriptions of the projects offered for this summer internship I applied to as many of the projects as I could, because all of them intrigued me, hoping that I could possibly get the job. What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? In the project that I am working on, we are assessing the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) requirements and design artifacts for coverage of fault management functions. We are using DOORS software requirements repository and design documents to identify fault scenarios and summarizing the system’s response capabilities. Our team is also researching legacy system failures and assessing the SGSS design for respective fault management capabilities. What do you like most about working for NASA? The thing that I like most about working at NASA is the environment of people surrounding you. Although people are constantly working on projects and don’t have much time to communicate with each other, it seems that everyone working at the internship loves what they do. Also, the full time employees are very nice and courteous to the interns, which make us feel a lot more comfortable coming to work every day.
Name: Laura Ullom Hometown: Jane Lew, W.Va. High School or College: Lewis County High School graduate who plans to study journalism at Cedarville University in the fall of 2014 Why did you apply for a NASA internship? I applied for an internship with NASA for mainly two reasons. (1) My first experience with NASA was good. (I went to one of those “Bring Your Kid to Work” days with my dad, had a blast, and to this day have a poster hanging in my bedroom of Expedition 8! (2) I became interested in technical writing (that’s pretty much taking complicated information and making it easy to understand). I wanted to see what it was like working in a real-life technical writing situation. What are you doing for NASA? I am currently working on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Tool Analysis team as a technical writer. Basically, that means I am learning about what the brilliant analysts are working on and writing about, so other people can know too. What do you like most about working for NASA? I think of all the things I like about working for NASA, the thing I like the most is seeing how all the people here are so passionate about the work they do. Everyone I’ve talked to is driven and excited to make a difference. The atmosphere motivates me to work hard, too!
Summer at NASA’s IV&V Program is just another season for most employees, but for a few, it means working with a very promising group of college and high school interns. Some will be teaching their interns how to create applications in Java and some will be guiding them through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) presentation development.
The high school interns represent high schools located all over West Virginia, while the college interns represent colleges located throughout the entire United States. The ten college interns here this summer represent the program’s 5th class of the 10-week long Summer College Internship Program (SCIP), and the fourteen high school interns are the program’s 19th class of the 8-week long NASA IV&V Engineering Apprenticeship Program (NEAP). Both internship programs provide professional work experience, exposure to IV&V efforts, and an opportunity to experience real engineering careers. All of our interns will present their summer efforts at IV&V, Goddard Space Flight Center, and NASA Headquarters.
Nick Ohi – Mentor: Ricky Forquer
Trey Duckworth – Mentor: Rick Hess
Derek Hanely – Mentor: Jeremy Yagle
Thomas Alappat – Mentor: Ashley LeMasters
Josh Hiett – Mentor: Steven Hard
Josh McPherson – Mentor: Bill Elson
Katherine Warner – Mentor: Rickey Beamer
Jared Leggett – Mentor: Greg Black
Ashton Armstrong – Mentor: Justin Smith
Georgette Ball – Mentor: Justin Smith
High School Interns
Matthew Gramlich, Cortney Mercer and Jonathan Lister – Mentor: Ricky Forquer
Esha Halabe – Mentor: Ryan Starn
Laura Ullom – Mentor: Rick Hess
David Lituchy and Isaak Wolfe – Mentor: Darilyn Dunkerley
Robert Hewitt and Vincent Spagnuolo – Mentor: Don Kranz
Katherine Reid and Wyatt Kitzmiller– Mentor: Ed Meek
Samuel Talkington – Mentor: Ross Blankley
John Forquer and Dalton Okel– Mentor: Joelle Spagnuolo-Loretta
Congratulations are due to these interns for being IV&V’s summer 2014 intern group. Also, thank you to the program for supporting these internship initiatives. Everyone at IV&V hopes you have a great experience.
STEMInitiatives Lead NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program
Former NEAP intern and year-round intern, Sarah Layman, recently graduated from West Virginia University, earning her Bachelor of Science in industrial and management systems engineering. Sarah started at IV&V in the summer of 2009 and has worked here every summer since. She will be leaving the program to go to work full-time for FedEx Express in Charleston, W.Va. as an associate engineer.
I can still remember the day that one of my friends told my mom about the NEAP (NASA IV&V Engineering Apprenticeship Program) opportunity. I was so mad at her, because I knew that there was no way I could get out of that one. I was on the swim team at the time, and the only thing that I wanted to do that summer was be a lifeguard and get a tan.
The next thing that I knew, I was filling out the application with my mom. I decided to play along because I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way I’ll actually get this.” Well just my luck, a month or so later I received a letter in the mail from Jess White telling me that, guess what… you will be a NEAP intern for the summer of 2009!
I wouldn’t say that I started that summer with an open mind. I was so unbelievably nervous, because “This is NASA, I can’t mess up!” Jess will attest to the fact that I sat at my workstation and didn’t say a word to anyone for at least the first week. At some point I started talking to my partner on the project and people that sat around me more, and we even started to eat lunch together outside.
When people used to ask me where I was working for the summer I’d say NASA IV&V, and their response was always “Wow.” I quickly realized that this was an awesome opportunity that not every 16-year-old got, and it was one that could really benefit my future. When I got into that mind-set, I was able to open up and really start learning. And after that, well the rest was history. I haven’t wanted to leave IV&V since. Although, I did have to do something difficult, I had to tell my mom that she was right and thank her. I’ve learned so much from this organization, and I hope that my working here has benefited the IV&V Program in some small way.
As I move forward with my career, there are a few key ideals that I will take with me from IV&V.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility; it must not be sacrificed in any way.
I must always do my work to the highest standard and continually look for improvement.
It is important to balance my work life with my home life.
IV&V gives high school and college interns the chance to work as professionals. We are given a mentor, but we’re expected to act and work as any other employee. This independence allowed me to learn quickly how to communicate, manage my time, accomplish projects goals, and so much more. I can go forward knowing that I have not only developed important technical skills, but I have also learned how to work effectively in this environment. Thank you to all that have helped me along the way, as well as all of the interns that you have and will impact every year. Your time and effort is appreciated. Also, a special thanks to Jess White for all that he does with the internship program, and so much more.
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program