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Playlist "35C3: Refreshing Memories"

Space Ops 101


After launching a spacecraft into orbit the actual work for mission control starts. Besides taking care of the position and speed of the spacecraft this includes e.g. detailed modeling of the power usage, planning of ground station contacts, payload operations and dealing with unexpected anomalies. In this talk we will see many examples of problems particular to space crafts and how they influence the way space craft mission operations works.

Suppose you built your own satellite and somehow managed to launch it into space, what are you going to do next? Can you just ssh into your onboard computer and try out a couple of things to take a picture of earth and download the file? Did you just lose contact with your satellite due to an empty battery, because it heated up too much or because it rotated in the wrong direction? What are other issues you might forget to account for?

After understanding why in spacecraft operations nothing works the way one expects we will have some answers to these questions. Also we will see how these problems are nowadays tackled by mission control centers all over the world, what happens in emergencies, what FDS, GDS, LEOP and TTC stand for and why spacecraft operators worry so much about weird particularities of time systems. Everything will be illustrated by real-life examples.

The only prerequisite for this talk is that you know that earth is not flat!