[Via Satellite 05-29-2015] Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) opened its recently completed Spacecraft Operations Center (SOC) this week ahead of a series of satellite launches. Four SSTL-built satellites are slated to launch in the coming months and the company plans to inaugurate the facility during the first phase of in-orbit commissioning — establishing contact followed by conducting a series of tests and operations designed to check that all the spacecraft’s systems are working correctly.
The SOC is a control hub containing the infrastructure necessary to track, command, control and downlink data 24/7 from SSTL’s orbiting satellites. The new SOC has a larger and significantly enhanced work environment for the operators. The facility will also support several customers’ spacecraft operations, either by acting as a secondary SOC or as backup to their own SOCs when they carry out maintenance or upgrades.
SSTL’s SOC is connected primarily to the company’s own two ground stations in the U.K., but it is also structured to be able to securely communicate with the satellites through a number of ground stations located around the world. It is designed to operate in a highly efficient “lights-out” mode requiring minimal operator intervention by using automated computer-controlled routines to manage the exchange of data between the ground stations and the satellites, and to autonomously monitor the health of the satellites.