The technical component of the Spaceteq workforce covers the complete required skill range from program management and systems engineering to detail design capabilities in electronics, software and mechanics.
The key skill areas are as follows:
Project managers are responsible for all aspects of project execution.
The key responsibilities of the project manager are:
- Single point of contact and responsibility for the project towards management, the client and the project team.
- Keeping the project cost within budget.
- Managing Client expectations and ensuring that the project scope remains within the boundaries of the contract.
- Keeping the project schedule within the project deadlines.
- Maintaining the best trade-off between time scales, cost and technical performance.
- Maintaining a risk dashboard for all risks that affect the project and managing these risks to reduce their potential impact.
- Maintenance of the central project management database with all schedule planning data, estimates and risks.
All projects are managed in accordance with the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), the associated Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS) and Technical Performance (TP), as contracted with the client. The actual data is compared to the project planning information on a
continuous basis to identify variances as early as possible, with a view to taking timeous corrective action. The responsibility for technical scope and performance is delegated to the project system engineer, but the project manager remains accountable for the total project.
Spaceteq follows a pragmatic approach with the application of project management on its projects, with the main aim to satisfy the client by meeting contractual obligations while maximizing productivity and project profit.
Every Spaceteq project has an appointed project manager and chief system engineer, who together form the management team of the project. The chief system engineer takes prime responsibility for all technical aspects of the project. A System Engineering Management Plan
(SEMP) is drawn up for each project and governs the technical execution of that project. This plan is based on accepted international system engineering practices and standards.
The key focus areas of a project system engineer are:
- Identification and management of all technical risks and upkeep of a risk dashboard.
- Transforming user requirements into system and lower-level specifications.
- Liaison with the client on system-level technical aspects.
- Management of deliverables for all project milestones.
- Performing selected system studies and mission planning.
- Management of the key project Technical Performance Measures (TPM), such as power, mass and link budgets.
- Guarding the technical scope of the project.
Electronics hardware design
Spaceteq offers the services of an experienced digital and analogue electronics group with an excellent track record in the conceptualisation, design, development and qualification of sophisticated equipment. Specific areas of expertise include:
- Command and data handling.
- Attitude control.
- Integration and ground support.
The development of new components is done in small groups consisting of a task leader and one or more product engineers. The task leader is responsible for delivering an item conforming to the requirements in time and on budget, while the product engineers are responsible for the technical details of the design.
A formal design process, focused on delivering high quality, reliable systems with short development cycles, is followed. Formal reviews involving the system engineer(s) and senior technical personnel are held after key phases in the development to ensure that progress is as expected and to identify and manage risks early in the process. Informal peer-reviews are also held within the functional area teams to aid communication and the sharing of experience between engineers. The design process is complemented by a streamlined documentation process that produces sufficient relevant documentation without becoming an excessive burden on the designers. Both the design and documentation processes are based on the ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) international standards. Reliability in the space environment is of utmost importance and is a prime driving force in the development process. A robust architecture based on industry standard interfaces and space-proven technologies forms the backbone of all Spaceteq satellites. New developments utilize standard design blocks that reduce design time and risk. All satellite components are qualified through environmental tests (temperature, vibration, vacuum) as part of the development process.
Throughout the design process it is endeavored to minimize complexity, which reduces risk, cost and design time, while maximizing reliability.
Software forms an integral part of numerous Spaceteq products. The software is developed by a dedicated software team as well as a few specialist engineers in specialized functional areas. The software development processes and standards are defined and maintained by the software team. The software development process is based on modern agile development processes, but tailored and formalized where necessary in order to satisfy the unique needs and constraints of satellite system engineering projects (as defined in the System Engineering Management Plan). Agile development processes are iterative and lightweight while emphasizing working software, risk management, communication and feedback. This results in productive teamwork and highly successful software projects.
- The software development capabilities are as follows:
- Programming languages: C, C++, Java, C#, embedded scripting languages
- Embedded real-time kernels and operating systems
- Small embedded systems
- Real-time systems
- High reliability and high availability systems
- Communications systems
- Database and information systems
- Command and control systems
- Human machine interfaces (HMI's)
- Web-based systems
Spaceteq has a strong mechanical engineering capability with a proven track record of combining innovative conceptualization, scientific analysis and engineering pragmatism into winning designs of electromechanical systems. Spaceteq has an opto-mechanical and a mechanical design team.
The mechanical team is responsible for conceptualizing, design, engineering analysis and testing of primary and secondary satellite structures, as well as packaging of electronic systems for harsh vibration and thermal environments. The mechanical design team has the required materials expertise applicable to conventional metal, such as aluminium, as well as the expertise applicable to advanced high modulus composites.
Opto-mechanical design is the sub-discipline of optical engineering in which optics such as lenses, mirrors, and prisms are integrated into mechanical structures (cells, housings, trusses etc.) so as to form an optical instrument. As part of the design effort the opto-mechanical team decides on materials, structural design and analysis with solid modelers and advanced Finite Element Modeling (FEM) software, and designs lens-to-mount interfaces, prism and mirror mounts, as well as allowing for assembly and alignment. The team also designs focus mechanisms. Close interaction, both technically and project management with specialist optical designers and precision manufacturers outside Spaceteq, locally and abroad is essential for a successful product.
The Spaceteq mechanical teams follow pragmatic approaches, for example for the structural design the following DFX (Design for ...) approaches are followed: "no static test, adaptability, (local- if possible) manufacturability, integration and testing. The team has in-house skills on Modal Testing, but contracts the University of Stellenbosch for execution of tests on their equipment. Vibration and environmental testing is mostly done at the Houwteq facility near Grabouw.
The production team group ensures the cost-effective production of SSIS products using a data-pack compiled by the design engineers as input. To ensure reliability all products are put through environmental testing (temperature, hot vacuum and vibration) to either qualification or acceptance levels after production. The bulk of the production of mechanical parts and components is done by selected subcontractors. Spaceteq has a small in-house production facility, which focuses on low volume, high quality requirements conforming to IPC 610B Class III recommendations for soldering and harness manufacturing. Further processing like potting and staking of components, conformal coating of PCB's and mechanical integration is also conducted in accordance with IPC recommendations by a specialized and experienced team. Quality control inspection points are enforced throughout the process. Spaceteq views the technical production team as the "engine room" of its business.
The list below summarizes the skill areas within the group:
- Component management
- Generation of production documentation (including, inter alia, process control sheets, work instructions).
- Establishment and validation of special processes and procedures.
- Design of production tools and jigs.
- Ensuring testability in manufacture.
- Soldering conforming to IPC 610B Class III standards
- Harness Manufacturing according to IPC recommendations
- Potting and staking of components and PCB's according to IPC recommendations
- Conformal coating of PCB's
- Mechanical assembly of components and PCB's
- Quality control
Spaceteq has found, from feedback on competitive bids, that Spaceteq's team outperforms those of the competitors in terms of productivity as measured in deliverables per man-hour. The low cost of highly skilled labour in South Africa provides Spaceteq with a further labour cost advantage, which allows greater freedom in optimising pricing strategy.
The product information detail is available on request.