Phase A No More: The MOVE-II System Definition Review

As you may have noticed, the weekly update for 27/11/2015 has been delayed. The reason for this is that all team members are currently hard at work writing documentation for our system definition review (SDR). This post provides a short explanation. Like most space projects, MOVE-II follows the NASA/ESA project life cycle as described in the following image (The ESA model looks very similar, it just uses a different nomenclature):

NASA Project Life Cycle

NASA Project Life Cycle

While this image looks extremely complicated (and is a great display of the aerospace industry’s love for acronyms), its contents are actually pretty simple: The project is split into six to seven different phases, each ending with a review. MOVE-II has already gone through the Pre-Phase A with a Mission Concept Review (MCR) taking place in 2012. After the MCR, we had big problems with funding aquisition to actually enter the design phase of the satellite, with the actual mission goals and system architeture changing several times. Finally, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) agreed to finance MOVE-II in May 2015. Work on the satellite could finally really begin, and right now we are finalizing Phase A of the program. The team is compiling documentation for the System Requirements Review (SRR) and the System Definition Review (SDR) which is then sent out to external reviewers from universities, companies and institutions like ESA and DLR. They will then send back their comments, which the team will then act on.

At the current project stage, the general system requirements have been finalized: We know what our satellite must be able to do. In addition to this, we aalso have a general concept of how the system fulfilling these requirements will look like, which we are currently describing in the first round of weekly updates. We are now ready to let experts look over the work we have done so far, tell us if our assumptions are correct and point out possible problems to us. The results should be in within the next two weeks, and we will update you on the feedback we get.

While the preparation and execution of these reviews takes a lot of time and effort from the project management, they are invaluable to the project for two reasons: team members are “forced” to write documentation (which is easily forgotten otherwise when things get stressful) and invaluable feedback can be obtained from professional reviewers. In addition, students are educated in the typical project life cycle used in the space industry. For these reasons, we are currently planning at least four additional reviews for MOVE-II:

  • Preliminary Design Review (PDR): 02/2016
  • Critical Design Review (CDR): 08/2016
  • Operational Readiness Review (ORR): 02/2017
  • Flight Readiness Review (FRR): 07/2017

with launch of the satellite currently planned in early 2018. Please note that all review dates are very preliminary at this point.

That is all for now. Regular weekly updates should resume soon.

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