Implementing model-based system engineering for the whole lifecycle of a spacecraft


Design information of a spacecraft is collected over all phases in the lifecycle of a project. A lot of this information is exchanged between different engineering tasks and business processes. In some lifecycle phases, model-based system engineering (MBSE) has introduced system models and databases that help to organize such information and to keep it consistent for everyone. Nevertheless, none of the existing databases approached the whole lifecycle yet. Virtual Satellite is the MBSE database developed at DLR. It has been used for quite some time in Phase A studies and is currently extended for implementing it in the whole lifecycle of spacecraft projects. Since it is unforeseeable which future use cases such a database needs to support in all these different projects, the underlying data model has to provide tailoring and extension mechanisms to its conceptual data model (CDM). This paper explains the mechanisms as they are implemented in Virtual Satellite, which enables extending the CDM along the project without corrupting already stored information. As an upcoming major use case, Virtual Satellite will be implemented as MBSE tool in the S2TEP project. This project provides a new satellite bus for internal research and several different payload missions in the future. This paper explains how Virtual Satellite will be used to manage configuration control problems associated with such a multi-mission platform. It discusses how the S2TEP project starts using the software for collecting the first design information from concurrent engineering studies, then making use of the extension mechanisms of the CDM to introduce further information artefacts such as functional electrical architecture, thus linking more and more processes into an integrated MBSE approach.

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Correspondence to P. M. Fischer.

Additional information

This paper is based on a presentation at the German Aerospace Congress, September 13–15, 2016, Braunschweig, Germany.

Extension to the original DLRK conference publication: P. M. Fischer, D. Lüdtke, C. Lange, F.-C. Roshani, F. Dannemann, and A. Gerndt, “Implementing Model-Based System Engineering for the Whole Lifecycle of a Spacecraft”, in 65. Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress (DLRK), Braunschweig, Germany, 2016.

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Fischer, P.M., Lüdtke, D., Lange, C. et al. Implementing model-based system engineering for the whole lifecycle of a spacecraft. CEAS Space J 9, 351–365 (2017).

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  • MBSE
  • CDM
  • System engineering
  • Spacecraft
  • Modeling
  • Concurrent engineering