Oberpfaffenhofen/Kourou, 28.02.2019. At 22:37 Central European Time (CET) on February 27 2019, a Soyuz launch vehicle operated by Arianespace lifted off from the European spaceport (CSG, Centre Spatial Guyanais) in French Guyana. In addition to t:he first OneWeb satellites, it also carried an on-board camera system (OCAM-2) developed by space systems specialist OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the space and technology group OHB SE.
For this OneWeb first launch, launch service provider Arianespace is once again relying on OHB System AG’s proven OCAM-2 system. Four cameras mounted to the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz delivered video footage of the first six OneWeb satellite separation process in space.
“The OneWeb satellite constellation, a planned network of hundreds of near-earth satellites, will enable people in remote locations where there is no broadband access to use global Internet services. I like this idea because it shows how useful space technology is for our daily live. I am therefore delighted that with our camera system we are able to deliver fascinating videos of the release of the satellites and their onward flight,” says Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB System AG.
Camera, lights, action!
The camera selection, illumination, recording, storage, playback and data transmission parameters are automatically initiated by two independent control sequences: When the system is powered up, the “preflight timeline” is activated. With detection of the launch vehicle lifted off, by means of an acceleration sensor, the “flight timeline” is activated running the pre-defined recording sequences.
Data downloaded during overflight
The data captured from all the cameras (up to 7000 seconds of video data) was recorded on-board and then processed in real time by Arianespace.
Reliable and proven
Back in 2006, the predecessor OCAM system enabled unique recordings of the launch and flight of an Ariane 5 as well as of the release of an extremely lightweight Japanese reflector antenna in space. The OHB system was also on board during the maiden flight of the European VEGA launcher at the beginning of 2012, contributing to the qualification exercise.
The OCAM-2 successor system was developed for the flight aboard the European VEGA, Soyuz and Ariane 5 carriers. “We used OCAM-2 for the first time in 2013 as part of the STEREX experiment on Ariane 5 flight VA213 of the ATV-4 Albert Einstein spacecraft funded by the German Aerospace Center (DLR),” says project manager Horst Pfeuffer. “OCAM-2 flew very successfully on the Soyuz Sentinel-1A mission as early as 2014 in virtually the same configuration as for the OneWeb mission.”
OCAM-2 meets strict requirements
“Our camera system is qualified according to Ariane 5 requirements, which means that we had to prove before the launch that it is able to withstand the stresses arising during take-off and space flight and remains fully functional,” explains Horst Pfeuffer. “In designing the system, we sought to achieve the smallest possible mass with the greatest possible robustness. OCAM-2 is versatile and can be easily adapted to different tasks.”
In a contract for Arianespace, OHB System AG was responsible for the hardware and software of the on-board system and supported the installation and integration of the camera system as well as the necessary testing in Kourou.
The video of the launch is available on the Arianespace YouTube-Channel.