Mission design at rocket speed

Planning space missions is traditionally a time-consuming and costly process. But the new Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF), housed at UNSW’s Canberra campus, speeds things up so a mission can be planned in weeks rather than months.

Harnessing the expertise, design processes and software of the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), the UNSW team has created Australia’s first concurrent design facility.

The ANCDF allows engineers and scientists—both professionals and students—to design different parts of a mission in parallel rather than one after the other, which is the traditional approach.

According to Jan-Christian Meyer, ANCDF Manager and Space Systems Engineer with UNSW, bringing together experts from different domains allows for better communication and greater consistency. This means fewer errors, a greater variety of options, and ultimately more suitable designs and less uncertainty for customers.

“Engineers are eager to run studies in the ANCDF because they see the value of this new, agile approach,” Jan-Christian says.

“This is an exciting opportunity for UNSW Canberra Space because as a relatively young group we can more easily change the way we work. That’s a lot more difficult for a large enterprise with long-existing processes,” he says.

Since becoming fully operational in June 2018 the ANCDF has already been used by engineers and scientists to prepare for missions launching in 2019. Plus, hundreds of school students and undergraduates have already participated in satellite design workshops.

Banner image: Inside the ANCDF. Credit: UNSW