August 14, 2011:

NASA, Sweden Partner on Small Spacecraft Technology Development 

NASA and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) are collaborating to develop powerful low-cost satellites for advanced space missions. 

Miniaturization is a recent trend in space exploration, as smaller and smaller spacecraft demonstrate that they can do things that once required enormous‹and expensive‹spacecraft. NASA is interested in determining the feasibility of small spacecraft doing the work of large ones, either by themselves or in spacecraft constellations.

The partnership harnesses the experience of AAC Microtec, a miniaturized multifunctional electronics systems developer, Uppsala, Sweden, in designing and building miniature Space Plug-and-Play Avionics compatible spacecraft buses and NASA's Ames Research Center's, Moffett Field, Calif., expertise in advanced scientific applications.

The Swedish National Space Board is funding AAC Microtec¹s development of a miniature Space Plug-and-Play Avionics (SPA) compatible platform, including interfaces, onboard computers, and power subsystems. The platform will be tested at Ames in June 2012. The Swedish platform is being developed jointly with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicle Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as part of an international effort to provide operational responsiveness.

The United States and Sweden have been collaborating in space for decades; early cooperation involved studies of the sun's effects on Earth's magnetic field; as well as sounding rocket and high altitude balloon experiments. This collaboration holds the promise of expanding what the two countries may accomplish together in space.

June 01, 2011:

ÅAC Microtec receives first product order from Japan

ÅAC Microtec has received an order from the University of Tokyo’s nano-satellite center for tools for the development of the center’s satellite platform.

In 2010, the University of Tokyo started a project focusing on the technological innovation, strategy, and utilization of nano-satellites. The project is led by Professor Shinichi Nakasuka and research and development is conducted through the coordinated efforts of many different universities, researchers and separate enterprises. The nano-satellite center has now placed an order for ÅAC Microtec’s hardware and development environment. 

ÅAC Microtec’s Starter-kit Plug-and-play Professional enables developers of satellites and other unmanned vehicles to fully utilize Space Plug-and-play Avionics (SPA) to integrate components on their platforms, minimizing integration time and effecting substantial cost savings. The kit contains three types of remote terminal units, RTUs, flexible miniaturized interface and control computers tailored for different applications, and two types of DPCUs, smart distributed power control units, among other things. 

ÅAC Microtec’s RTU products have been developed in close cooperation with US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration (FMV). They are designed according to the American SPA standard, which focuses on interoperability and rapid response. Practically no development time is required to deploy new systems built with components utilizing the SPA standard.

“This is our first commercial delivery to a customer in Japan and thus an important milestone for our company. The University of Tokyo has previously sent personnel to us to attend courses in the plug-and-play technology. This order is confirmation that they have realized the great advantages that our products will offer when integrated on their satellite platforms,” says Mats Magnell, CEO of ÅAC Microtec.

March 24, 2011:

ÅAC Microtec selected for evaluation of SiP technology

ÅAC Microtec has been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to perform an evaluation of System in Package (SiP) technology for high density packaging electronics.

ÅAC Microtec has been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to perform an evaluation of System in Package (SiP) technology for high density packaging electronics.

ESA’s objectives are to provide the European space industry with a robust and qualified SiP technology. SiP stands for System in Package, a miniaturization technology where a number of integrated circuits are enclosed in a single package.

ÅAC Microtec has already developed and manufactured several SiP components and subsystems and a number of components have been launched and operated in space on various technology validation platforms. However, a formal process standardization and qualification has not yet been performed.

The study will focus on validating the manufacturing processes for SiP devices used in space applications, particularly in potential applications on the ExoMars rover. The validation also aims to create a generic platform of processes used in the SiP technology with regard to thin film processing, bare die attachment techniques, stacking of ceramic substrates and more. 

“This study gives us the opportunity to quality assure our production methods for space qualified electronics, which is a major step for us. When the project has been completed ÅAC Microtec will be qualified for serial deliveries to the European space industry,” says Mats Magnell, CEO of ÅAC Microtec.

February 10, 2011:

Multi-wafer hybrid integration developed for rover navigation systems

A multi-national team led by ÅAC Microtec has developed multi-wafer hybrid integration for use in rover navigation systems.

The study was commissioned by the European Space Agency study and was led by ÅAC Microtec AB, Sweden. Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd in Bristol, UK and the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Bremen, Germany were the other partners.

The team successfully developed a miniaturized MEMS-based inertial measurement unit (IMU) for use in rover navigation systems for planetary or lunar exploration missions. The IMU is based on a three-axis MEMS Gyro and three-axis MEMS accelerometer with a CAN digital bus interface for use in robotic operations, maximizing use of ESA-developed sensors and interfacing.

The project has demonstrated the feasibility of such a unit by deriving requirements from the targeted missions. A proof of concept IMU hardware demonstrator was tested extensively at DFKI on both an Agile Asguard Rover and a robot arm. At the European Space Research and Technology Center, ESTEC, it was presented in the Lunar Robotics Environment on the ESA LRM Rover. 

“In addition to developing an exciting application, the project has been of great value to ÅAC Microtec as it has entailed the study of cold electronics, using components with mission storage qualification between –120 and +70°C. This has enabled us to further enhance our expertise in this area, where we enjoy a world leading position,” says Fredrik Bruhn, Vice President at ÅAC Microtec.  

January 31, 2011:

ÅAC Microtec in Swedish press SVD regarding Plug and play for satellites


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