Three days before launch and few weeks before operations, the procedures for setting up our experiments were validated at BIOTESC in Hergiswil, Switzerland. Located at the Vierwaldstätter See, BIOTESC is one of ESA’s USOCs (User Support & Operations Center) and responsible for the operations and crew support for various ESA experiments like CIMON, Flying Classroom or MarconISSta.
Why is a validation test performed only three days before lauch? Well, this test was not validating the experiment itself, but rather the correctness of the procedures for installation and deinstallation. These are typically written when hardware and software development has been completed. Additionally, the operations where tested with flightlike versions of the Astro Pi, LimeSDR and Ethernet connection. This makes sure that the operations procedures are fine and prevents delays or even additional crew time during the real operations.
Christian Rösch and Roland Stocker drafted the procedures and support the MarconISSta operations. As they and Martin are familiar with the setup of MarconISSta, they are not suited for a validation of the procedures. Gwendolyne Demoulin worked on the CIMON operations with Christoph Kössl from Airbus. Therefore BIOTESC head of services Bernd Rattenbacher performed the installation and had some helpful feedback to improve certain steps. No critical elements were identified and the installation was performed quickly. For operations simulation, Fabian Ille, leader of the Institute of Medical Engineering at Hochschule Luzern and radio amateur, brought his equipment to simulate signals that were injected into the various RF inputs of the experiment. Our program stored the measurements of these signals on the Astro Pi as planned and the background script for automatic operations was proven to work without problems. Good work, Malek and Tim!
Later that day, the BIOTESC team presented Christoph from CIMON and Martin with two “Space Beers” that have been brewed in Luzern. The MarconISSta team will share these as soon as the first measurement data arrives in Berlin! To round off an exciting day, Christian, Roland and Gwen showed Christoph and Martin the beautiful city of Luzern, including Rösti dinner and a local beer. Thanks BIOTESC!