From the experiences learned in the ZA-CUBE-1 mission, bringing up of a small-scale mission assurance facility is reported. The first of a series of actions envisaged to accomplish the facility is achieving functional test and verification, and the same under modest temperature cycling. The former is initiated by setting up a test and measurement system comprising of the legacy equipment from the previous space project, while a thermal chamber is procured as a first-pass of environmental validation. The test system is driven autonomously using a highly pliant software controller, which is the executable tool for the conceived methodology of systems engineering life cycle and mission assurance. Besides automated electrical and temperature measurements, the software has been crafted to accommodate for Phase B/C deliverables by way of simulations, virtual prototypes, emulation of operation scenarios with hardware tools and the mission software—all unified in a single platform. The system is exploited in validating a S-band transmitter while economizing time, and in obtaining valuable insight in transmission performance over thermal loads, which may result in revising the mission requirements and impacting satellite system parameters. The goal of the work is to shorten the iterative mission engineering in top-down and bottom-up cycles, through automation and, ultimately ensure substantial consistency and traceability in the design flow.
Zaidi, Y., Fitz-Coy, N. G., & van Zyl, R. (2016, September). Rapid, automated test, verification and validation for CubeSats. Paper presented at 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC)