- Satellite Evolution Group
SENER Aeroespacial leads the AURORA project on advanced space software technologies
SENER Aeroespacial leads AURORA, a project financed by the European Union through its H2020 Space Program, to develop auto-coding in-flight software. The ultimate goal is to promote competitiveness, self-reliance and innovation in the European space sector and to bolster its technological advances.
The AURORA project provides a suite of European tools for the development and validation of auto-coding in-flight software that optimizes interoperability and the exchange of information on the platform. Simplifying the process yields a more reliable solution, significantly shorter software programming times and lower production costs. The auto-coding in-flight software is applicable in both scientific missions and commercial missions, including the telecommunications market and the so-called NewSpace.
SENER Aeroespacial is applying its experience in guidance, navigation and control programs in AURORA, especially in AOCS (attitude and orbit control systems), which it has successfully developed for European Space Agency (ESA) satellites such as Euclid, Herschel, Planck, NAVIGA, and others. Also taking part in AURORA are the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and two European companies.
Thus, through AURORA, SENER Aeroespacial is enhancing its position in a budding market in Europe, that of medium-cost space systems and devices that offer good performance and high reliability.
How AURORA works
The programming code of an AOCS system is generated by applying model-based systems engineering (MBSE) that simulates the different scenarios, conditions and possible errors, and yields different programs for the system. The next phase is to transfer these models to the source code that is specific to each space vehicle in order to create the guidance, navigation and control (CNG) software. Today, this process needs extensive verification and multiple manual tests, which translates into high costs.
The AURORA solution validates the capabilities of the QGEN tool to transform the models into source code that is directly integrated into the flight software. The technology is demonstrated by running the automated code in AURORA with the results of the auto-generated code in the Euclid mission, which was already validated and verified: the demonstration process will make use of the validation and verification test cases designed for the formal AOCS/CNG campaign for Euclid, with testing conducted in the actual test environment (MIL, SIL, PIL [open-loop emulator] and HIL [SCOE for open-loop testing]). This approach makes it easier to evaluate the technology by using a higher TRL (Technology Readiness Level). In other words, the most cutting-edge modeling standards and guidelines are applied to the auto-coding generation and validation process.
Furthermore, AURORA will guarantee the solution's interoperability capacity by specifying API (application program interface) for the component integration, for both the manual and auto-generated code. It incorporates new solutions, such as NASA's core flight system (cFS).
With support from the set of certified tools, AURORA proposes a lifecycle process for auto-coding in-flight software and a methodology for its specification, development and validation. The processes will adhere to the principles of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), including Component-Based Architecture, Model-Driven Architecture (MDA) and Model to Testing transformation.
AURORA will conclude with a demonstration of the feasibility assessment of the toolkit and the reduction in non-recurring costs of generating and verifying the software system.