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OpenPOWER Systems in Satellite Development and Operation

On the 6th April 2021, IBM, OpenPOWER partners along with the Indian Technology Congress Association (ITCA) and Foundation for Educational Excellence (FEE) celebrated the successful design, development, fabrication, integration, testing, launch, and operation of the UNITYsat aboard the PSLV C-51 Amazonia mission in 28th February 2021 from India’s spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, India, at The Leela Palace, Bangalore, India.

OpenPower Systems in Satellite meeting

The event was chaired by Dr. C. N. Ashwath Narayan, Honourable Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka and Honourable Minister for Higher Education, IT&BT, Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka. The guests of honor also included Padma Shri Prof. R. M. Vasagam, Padma Shri Mylswamy Annadurai, Dr. Wooday P Krishna, and Dr. L. V. Muralikrishna Reddy. It was also graced with the presence of various senior and eminent engineers/scientists from ISRO and various industry leaders.

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Through the OpenPOWER network, the students and researchers who worked on the satellite started their collaborative efforts in 2018 and have been working towards this goal. Summits and conferences through the years allowed the collaborative efforts with ITCA to progress with exponential growth. Through their work on the IBM Watson platform and IBM POWER and OpenPOWER systems, the students and researchers were able to develop the tools for the required process development and implementation.

Through their efforts the UNITYsat consisting of 3 satellites (JITsat, GHRCEsat and SriShakthiSat)) were developed in-house. The design phase started from the most basic elements of the satellite systems. They developed the satellite’s onboard command and data handling system, the electronic power supply, the communication system, the stabilization system and all other subsystems of the satellite. The satellites were developed and manufactured using industry-leading manufacturing facilities under the guidance of the most senior and eminent scientists from ISRO. It was launched successfully aboard ISRO’s PSLV C51 Amazonia Mission from SDSCSHAR, Sriharikota on 28 February 2021. All three satellites are being tracked and communicated successfully both from India and Serbia periodically and are orbiting the earth at an altitude of 513 km. The successful UNITYsat Programme was possible with the support and encouragement from Scientists of ISRO (past and present), Chairman, ISRO, Scientific Secretary/Interim Chairman, IN-SPACe, ISRO Approved Facilities in Bangalore, the OpenPOWER network and Chair Persons, Professors and Students of JIT, GHRCE, SSIET. The core team members who have built all 3 Satellites JITsat, GHRCEsat and SriShakthiSat are also active members of the OpenPOWER Foundation.

OpenPower Systems in Satellite

The success meet began with a short presentation of the satellite’s launch and deployment into orbit. After this, the welcome address was delivered by Dr. L.V. Muralikrishna Reddy, President ITCA, UNISEC India, and 75 Students’ Satellite Consortium: Mission 2022. The presidential address was delivered by Padma Shri Prof. R. M. Vasagam, Eminent Scientist, ISRO, Former VC, Anna University.

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Following this, the guest of honor, Dr. Ashwath Narayan C N delivered his address to the gathering. During the event, ITCA also awarded him the Honorary Fellowship. The event felicitated the students for their achievement in the successful launch of the UNITYsat and the first step in the 75 Students’ Satellites Mission 2022. As a part of the first launch of the mission, they were awarded certificates and mementos to commemorate their hard-earned victory. Padma Shri Dr. Mylswamy Annnadurai, being one of the chief advisors on the 75 Students’ Satellites Mission 2022, addressed the gathering expressing how this mission is a stepping stone in the greater mission and how this will be an important step in the future of the Indian space industry.

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We also felicitated all the industry experts that helped in the development of the satellites. We also felicitated the faculty and management of JIT, GHRCE, and SSIET for their tremendous support in this endeavor.

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Post the felicitation, Mr. Ganesan Narayanaswamy, OpenPOWER Leader in Education and Research, IBM, gave a brief presentation about the overview of the technology meet-up and how the OpenPOWER systems/IBM POWER systems and their tools helped the students in the development of the satellite. He spoke about how the students started their collaboration when they worked at the IBM OpenPOWER Summit in Amsterdam, where they worked on developing a lung-cancer malignancy detection model. This led to winning the runner-up place and the second runner-up place in the AI4GOOD hackathon. Through this, they started working on greater projects together. They slowly started moving towards the space sector by developing CanSats, which can simulate the basic satellite subsystems, on earth. This CanSat helped them in integrating high-end processing hardware into the satellite subsystems and integrating the sensors, deployment mechanisms, communication systems, and power systems into the satellite. This helped in making sure that the satellite will operate satisfactorily regardless of whatever environmental issues it may face in space.

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Wrapping up the night, Dr. Wooday P Krishna, National President, IIPE, Vice President, ITCA, and UNISEC India, expressed his vote of thanks to the gathering and to the entire UNITYsat team. He expressed his gratitude to the universities that supported the students in this endeavor. He also expressed his gratitude to the industry professionals and to the manufacturing facilities for their timely work in making sure that the satellite will be ready for launch. He also expressed his gratitude to ITCA, UNISEC India, and OpenPOWER without whose collaboration, this entire venture would never have happened. He greatly thanked Dr. K. Gopalakrishnan, Convener, UNITYsat Consortium of JIT, GHRCE & SSIET, and Secretary-General, ITCA & UNISEC India for being the most key and crucial player in the birth, incubation, and growth of the entire UNITYsat mission. This event helped the OpenPOWER partners and all its collaborative teams to celebrate the mission and to express their gratitude to all the players involved in the marvelous effort.

As a follow on to this mission, the students and researchers plan to develop an AI space assistant with a low-power device that is based on OpenPOWER cores.

As we as a team, carry on to explore the universe, we will continue to plan ambitious missions to satisfy our inherent curiosity as well as to improve the human lives on Earth. In our endeavors, AI with OpenPOWER /IBM POWER systems will help us both on Earth and in space make this exploration possible.

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