Complexity Engineering

Ontonix Software to Fly Onboard Alsat#1 Cubesat

Ontonix will deliver its QCM OntoNet™ software system to perform on-board complexity analysis of mission parameters of the Alsat#1 micro-satellite which will be launched in 2021.

The Alsat#1 will be launched by Nanoracks towards the International Space Station. Nanoracks is both the largest commercial user and private investor on the Space Station. ISS astronauts will install the satellite on the NRCSD Rack Deployer using the Remote Manipulator System. The deployer will place the satellite on a 380-420 km orbit with an inclination of 51.6 degrees. “The AlSat#1 mission involves the launch of a Cubesat-class satellite built entirely by the ADAA Association, which has brought together universities and companies in the sector to promote this ambitious enterprise entirely financed by private individuals. ADAA is a non-profit association dedicated to the dissemination of science in the fields of astronautics and astronomy. Students from Milan Polytechnic, Lugano Supsi and UCM of Malta engage in different aspects of the satellite’s realization. AlSat will have valuable scientific payloads such as the structure built using Additive Manufacturing and a radiation sensor.

Wikipedia: A CubeSat (U-class spacecraft) is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm cubic units. CubeSats have a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms (2.9 lb) per unit, and often use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for their electronics and structure. CubeSats are commonly put in orbit by deployers on the International Space Station, or launched as secondary payloads on a launch vehicle. More than 1200 CubeSats have been launched as of January 2020. More than 1100 have been successfully deployed in orbit and more than 80 have been destroyed in launch failures.

In 1999, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University developed the CubeSat specifications to promote and develop the skills necessary for the design, manufacture, and testing of small satellites intended for low Earth orbit (LEO) that perform a number of scientific research functions and explore new space technologies. Academia accounted for the majority of CubeSat launches until 2013, when more than half of launches were for non-academic purposes, and by 2014 most newly deployed CubeSats were for commercial or amateur projects.

Uses typically involve experiments that can be miniaturized or serve purposes such as Earth observation or amateur radio. CubeSats are employed to demonstrate spacecraft technologies intended for small satellites or that present questionable feasibility and are unlikely to justify the cost of a larger satellite. Scientific experiments with unproven underlying theory may also find themselves aboard CubeSats because their low cost can justify higher risks. Biological research payloads have been flown on several missions, with more planned. Several missions to the Moon and Mars are planning to use CubeSats. In May 2018, the two MarCO CubeSats became the first CubeSats to leave Earth orbit, on their way to Mars alongside the successful InSight mission.

Some CubeSats have become the first national satellites of their countries, being launched by universities, state-owned, or private companies. The searchable N.

The AlSat#1 got its name because of the interest of Col. Alfred Al Worden, Commander of the Apollo 15 Command Module, who visited Italy in 2015. In the picture below, Col. Worden is holding a model of the satellite.

Launch of AlSat#1 from the ISS is from the NRCSD Rack Deployer using the Remote Manipulator System. Launch responsibility of Nanoracks. Below is image of The Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) in action.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Ontonix among the supporters of our initiative with an important contribution of its OntoNet™ software, which will perform on-board real-time analysis of Alsat’s mission parameters”, said Mr. Alessandro Barazzetti, who impulsed the Alsat#1 and manager of the project, as well as CEO of Swiss-based QBT.

“Ontonix is proud to contribute its QCM system OntoNet™ to the Alsat project. Our QCM solutions have been designed by aerospace engineers in the 2000s and are being used in various sectors such as defense, medicine, manufacturing and finance. However, this is the first time that our technology will be deployed in orbit” said Dr. Marczyk, the founder and chief technologist of Ontonix. “The key characteristic of our unique technology is that it is able to detect anomalies without actually being trained to recognize them. The number of potential anomalies in complex systems and contexts, such as spacecraft and space flight, is so huge that adopting a Machine Learning approach is impractical, not to say impossible”, he added. “Sudden spikes in system complexity constitute a formidable early-warning signal of malfunctions, anomalies or cyber-attacks, and their identification is performed in real-time based on raw sensor data without any prior training” he concluded.

For information on ADAA visit website.

For information on Alsat#1 visit website.

For information on Nanoracks visit website.

Established originally in 2005 in the USA, Ontonix is a technology company headquartered in Como, Italy. The unusual technology and solutions developed by Ontonix focus on countering what most threatens safety, advanced products, critical infrastructures, or IT network security - the rapid growth of complexity. In 2007 the company received recognition by being selected as Gartner's Cool Vendor. What makes Ontonix different from all those companies and research centers who claim to manage complexity is that we have a complexity metric. This means that we MEASURE complexity. We detect anomalies in complex defense systems without using Machine Learning for one very good reason: our clients don’t have the luxury of multiple examples of failures necessary to teach software to recognize them. We identify anomalies without having seen them before. Sometimes, you must get it right the first and only time!

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