International Space University - Exploring Outer Valispace
The Valispace workshop at the International Space University (ISU) has concluded but the knowledge gained from this event will continue to help develop the flight paths of MSS19 for the rest of their careers.
It is incredible to see that the amount of data obtained from this event which was conducted in the early Spring season on February 28th 2019, conveyed in just a single day. Valispace is a browser-based software which integrates with other computer tools and applications. This software gives engineers the ability to work together and form teams while they collaborate to deliver completed projects via the merger of their collective work.
Valispace is not only a fascinating new way of working where engineers can design better engines, ion thrusters, space suits, or even an entire spacecraft. It is also an economically advantageous manner in which the Valispace browser based software offsets the development cost of perplexed hardware by up to ⅕ of its total cost.
In the field of hardware development, engineers usually encounter three types of engineering data: CAD-Data, Simulation Data and Non-CAD data (power consumption, pointing accuracy, temperatures, voltages, and data rates. This non-CAD data is presently stored inside of thousands of inconsistent Excel-, Word- and PDF files. It has been copy-pasted into simulations and documentation.
Valispace is about instilling dynamics and established engineering principles, called concurrent engineering. instructors do this by offering a hands-on exercise to the students. Attendees are separated in groups of 4 to 8, this is done so that each group is subdivided and given a particular responsibility of a subsystem design. In the first phase of the exercise, all subsystem teams work simultaneously to arrive at a solution that fits into the scope of the delegated project. For MSS19 of ISU, it was the revered Lunar Base. During this phase, dependencies between different subsystems revealed themselves and students had to learn how to work parallel to one another in concurrent design. By doing so, MSS19 was able to submit a preliminary design of a Lunar Base within 2 hours. Upon the completion of their task, the students were not only presented with the concept of Valispace but they were taken on a simulated journey on how to master it. This is what makes the Valispace workshop unique in its implementation and success.
Not all members of MSS19 have engineeringing backgrounds. Their fields of profession range from architecture, medicine, computer science, and mathematics. Yet they were all able to understand all of the valuable data that was disseminated by the workshop and were able to effectively use the browser software in order to support their teams in delivering their unique product. All attendees had positive post workshop reviews about Valispace and have begun to share the knowledge that they have attained with the space academics community.
Valispace itself was founded by three satellite engineers. It has been described in Forbes as one of Germany’s 100 most innovative Startups of 2018. Other online publications such as Wired and Techcrunch also acclaimed positively Valispace’s work and the company has also received various startup awards.
Photo credits: Stefan Siarov