CSA Has Big Plans for Cis-Lunar Space

CSA Has Big Plans for Cis-Lunar Space



Planning Missions from The Earth to the Moon with STK

I was happy to have had the opportunity to attend the CSCA-hosted Canadian Space Policy Conference at the University of Ottawa on 9 November. This event featured many of the ‘usual suspects’ in the Canadian space community including the CSA President Sylvain Laporte, Iain Christie from AIAC/Neptec, and the members of the Space Advisory Board (SAB).


While there was a fair amount of activity and discussion, one thing that stood out to me on the ‘future front’ was the outline of Canada’s intentions towards participating in the Deep Space Gateway, which is an ambitious new initiative to leverage cis-lunar space and the Moon to prepare for the longer human journey to Mars. The CSA sees Canada’s robotic technology again coming to the forefront in building/maintaining the Gateway.

Using STK to Support Lunar Mission Operations

Apparently, there are plans for the Gateway to assume a Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit which is shown here below:

Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbitweb2

Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit Modeled in STK


Over the years, AGI technology like STK has been heavily-employed in modeling the International Space Station (ISS) and other visiting objects:

ISS-Docking Video – http://www.agi.com/resources/videos/capture-and-docking-of-cygnus-with-iss

And, if you would like to review a video on how to employ STK to create a lunar trajectory:

STK Astrogator and Lunar B-Plane Targeting – http://www.agi.com/resources/videos/l3-focused-astr-lunar-mission-with-b-plane-targe . Here is a NASA Artemis case study describing the use of STK to model unusual orbits in the Earth-Moon system, and in particular the Lagrange Libration points.

This NASA LADEE Flight Dynamics case study is an example of modeling a lunar satellite which was used to measure and characterize the very thin Lunar atmosphere.

**NEW**  STK version 11.3’s Orbit Wizard tool will allow the creation of orbit types around non-Earth bodies (go to www.agi.com to download now)!



Some Facts About RealTimeTracking (RT3)

Since working with AGI for over 10 years now, I can say with some certainty that particular questions about our modules come up fairly regularly.  One in particular is whether a client should use the STK Integration Module for Real Time propagation of targets or if the RT3 module is the better option. STK Integration is definitely the ‘go to’ module to properly connect different applications to the STK application programming interface (API) in which you either want to a) tell STK to do something or b) have STK tell another application to do something. Often the ‘telling’ is really just the exporting of vehicle ephemerides that are either visualized in STK or provided by STK to an application (like Matlab) to do other calculations and analysis.

Now, for RT3, to leverage some recents comments from an AGI colleague:

“RT3 could also be used for this, but the advantages of RT3 will only be realized if you are pushing many objects into STK at the same time.  If your need is only to supply realtime positions for a smaller number of objects, I think the Realtime Propagator with an Integration license is probably a bit simpler. 



RT3 comes with a software development kit (SDK) that helps you create time-triggered actions, etc


If you think there may be a future need for pushing a larger number of realtime objects into STK then RT3 is something you may want to consider looking into but I should let you know of a few caveats to RT3: 

RT3 is meant to be able to streamline the realtime load by only displaying position data (i.e. not attitude data) and will group all incoming realtime entities into an STK Object called a “Multi Track Object” which is much lighter-weight than a “heavy” STK object.  MTO’s are essentially a collection of ID’s with time-stamped position information associated with each ID.  If an entity being supplied to RT3 does have attitude data associated with it, then RT3 will “promote” that particular ID to an actual STK aircraft object type and it will essentially be the same as using the Realtime Propagator via the previous method and will be more expensive computationally than a collection of objects with only positional data (i.e. Lat/Lon/Alt). 

You do gain the ability to query the incoming data stream with RT3.  This can be really useful if your data has associated Metadata with it.  For example, you may have an incoming data stream from commercial air traffic such as FlightAware or FlightRadar24 and that data will have many data fields available aside from just position such as callsigns, departure airport code, arrival airport code, aircraft type, engine types, etc. etc.  which you could then create an RT3 Query within the STK GUI to essentially filter out the potentially thousands of aircraft down to just the ones you may be concerned with.   

RT3 also supports the concept of “Actions” or “Events” which you can create custom through .NET code. This lets you fire events based on whatever you may want to calculate.  An example may be to change graphics to show the track(s) as RED in color if they are within a certain distance from another object or area, or do something more programmatic like send an email with specific information about any object that breaches a defined airspace volume (Area Target in STK for example).  Because you create these “events” yourself in .NET, you can make them perform whatever tasks you want, not just in STK capabilities, but any other .NET capability/library you may have included in the project.” 

I really could not say this last part better, so I didn’t. Hope it helps!

Canada Seeks Search and Rescue Mission Management System (SMMS)

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) released earlier this month the Request For Proposal (RFP) for said system, and with a bid response date of 27 Nov 2017. The proposed system includes a number of analytical and visualization elements. I am interested in talking to representatives from interested companies who may wish to collaborate on the system requirements. AGI has a strong record of reducing program risk and helping clients achieve high return on investment (ROI). Feel free to email me at wellis@agi.com.GLADS.jpg

AGI OneSky Conducts UAV Incident Forensics

A recent aircraft-to-UAS incident in Canadian airspace sparked interest from AGI’s OneSky department to determine what could be gleaned and modeled from available information, such that some possible insight could be obtained.

Link to the blog: https://onesky.blog/2017/10/18/skyjet-flight-sj512-collision-with-drone/

AGI Commemorates Canada’s 150th with Special Promotion

AGI Commemorates Canada’s 150th with Special Promotion


Ok, so we’re missing the ‘official’ birthday by a few months, but it’s the thought that counts, right?


Take advantage of this opportunity before the government closes the procurement gates. Please contact me at wellis@agi.com for additional details!

Podcast Episode 9: Moon vs Mars and Infrastructure and Imagination Leadership – SpaceQ

In this podcast episode I welcome back Wayne Ellis, a space and defence consultant with AppSpace Solutions of Winnipeg and past president of the CSS.

Source: Podcast Episode 9: Moon vs Mars and Infrastructure and Imagination Leadership – SpaceQ

Leveraging STK Coverage and Volumetrics to Re-create Russian Aircraft Buzzing of NATO Ship

Leveraging STK Coverage and Volumetrics to Re-create Russian Aircraft Buzzing of NATO Ship

In both the Baltic and the Black Sea, the Russians have been accused of flying their fighters dangerously close to US and NATO ships. These situations force the ship captains to maintain their sang-froid while the adversary aircraft venture within the ship’s missile engagement zone.

Shown here is a brief video re-creation using STK of a ‘buzzing incident’ in which a SU-34 is modeled as entering a ship protection zone and flying past at high speed. STK Coverage and the STK Volumetrics object are employed to visually display the danger zone, and in particular, the Su-34’s distance from it as it approaches.

Modeling, analysis, and movie-making are all covered during STKCore(TM) Training. The next course is 12-14 Sep, Ottawa, with Earlybird pricing ending mid-August!