Mission Control Climbs Aboard ESA’s OPS-SAT Operations

Artificial intelligence (AI), in the form of deep neural networks, is a key enabler for space mission autonomy, performance, and functionality. For remote sensing satellites neural networks are well-suited to deliver computer vision solutions using autonomous observation and data-filtering that enable human operators to maximize use of limited bandwidth. A crucial factor in the successful implementation of deep neural networks on space platforms is the embedded nature of such systems.
The performance of onboard space processors lags that of their terrestrial counterparts due to the additional effort required to make circuitry that can operate in extreme radiation, thermal, and vacuum conditions. The spaceborne processors available in the OPS-SAT Satellite Experimental Processing Platform, including the reconfigurable Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), address this performance gap and are the ideal test bed to develop new deep learning architectures for future remote sensing and deep space exploration missions.

Mission Control will be using the OPS-SAT platform to characterize a novel FPGA architecture for implementing neural networks on embedded space platforms. FPGAs offer a balance of reconfigurability, generalizability, and utilization efficiency but FPGA deep learning frameworks are still in their infancy. The software developed as part of our study will improve the operational performance of SmartCam and provide a modular scaffold for future space-based deep learning FPGA technology.




Mission Control at IAC 2021 in Dubai, UAE

Mission Control is proud to participate in the Emirates Lunar Mission launching to the Moon next year. ELM will include one of the first commercial micro-rovers to the Moon, and we are excited to be the first to demonstrate the use of Artificial Intelligence for supporting rover navigation and science operations on the surface of the Moon!

At IAC 2021 in Dubai, the world’s premiere global space conference, we will present an update on our lunar technology demonstration and participation in ELM.

Be sure to check out our talk at 15:05 (GMT +4) on Oct 26, “Next-Generation Mission Operations Software – A demonstration for the Emirates Lunar Mission”, by our President and CEO Ewan Reid, and our Manager of Product and Business Development, Kaizad Raimalwala.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Mission Control Participates in Live PR Event with Minister Champagne, CSA President Lisa Campbell, and Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques

Last week, Mission Control was thrilled to participate in the live announcement made by Minister Champagne that Canada would be sending a micro-rover to the Moon! The event featured CSA President Lisa Campbell and Canadian Astronaut David Saint-Jacques and included the announcement of demonstration funding under CSA’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. Through this program, Mission Control received a $3.04M award to demonstrate our technologies in Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and cloud-based mission operations software, as part of the Emirates Lunar Mission launching in 2022. Read more about it on our Emirates Lunar Mission page!

In case you missed our participation in last week’s event, here’s a video of our President & CEO Ewan Reid making our exciting announcement and showcasing some of the technologies that we will use in our upcoming lunar demonstration.


Announcement: Mission Control receives $3.04 contribution from Canadian Space Agency to demonstrate technology on the Moon

Mission Control Space Services Inc. (Mission Control) is pleased to announce that it is poised to open an exciting new chapter in Canadian space exploration thanks to a $3.04M contribution from the Canadian Space Agency’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. These funds will enable Mission Control to demonstrate artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technologies on a new lunar mission, positioning the company as a leader in computer applications for space exploration.

Mission Control will demonstrate a cutting-edge AI-integrated flight computer on the Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM), an international micro-rover mission led by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in the United Arab Emirates, launched on a SpaceX rocket and delivered to the Moon by ispace of Japan in 2022.

Visit our project page or see our press release for more details.


Reach for the Moon – Video Contest

Are you a Grade 8-12 student in Canada or India? We have an exciting opportunity for you! If you have ever wanted to learn to drive a rover on the Moon, this might be your chance.

We’re thrilled to announce our #ReachForTheMoon video contest with our partner in India, Axiom Research Labs (ARL) a.k.a. Team Indus, and with support from SEDS-Canada and SEDS-India.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is submit a 1-minute video and tell us about an experiment that you would run on the Moon if you had the chance. Be creative, be passionate, and tell us what makes you excited about space exploration!

Your submissions will be reviewed by our panel of expert judges in space exploration, science and robotics:

  • Natalie Panek: Senior Engineer, Systems Design at MDA
  • Dr. Andrew Rader: Mission Manager at SpaceX
  • Dr. Tanya Harrison: Director of Science Strategy at Planet Labs

The top 3 students from each country will get to remotely drive a real rover at our Moonscape in Ottawa, Canada, using our Mission Control Software platform for real-time rover teleoperations. As part of this experience, you will also get a chance to learn about planetary science and robotics in a virtual hangout led by our Chief Science Officer Dr. Melissa Battler.

For details on rules and how to apply, refer to our contest document.

The deadline to submit is May 30, 11:59 pm EDT. We’re excited to see where your imagination takes you!

Our Story

This summer (2021), we will run a series of lunar exploration mission tests at our facility in Ottawa, as part of a project called Mission Control Intelligence in partnership with ARL. Together with ARL, we will test next-generation technologies in robotics and artificial intelligence designed to help support scientists and engineers that will one day be a part of operating a rover on the Moon. Visit our Mission Control Intelligence project page to learn more!

To share our excitement for space exploration and help the next generation of students get a unique experience in the exciting world of space technology and planetary science, we have designed the Reach for the Moon contest for grade 8-12 school students in Canada and India.

This contest builds on the success of our immersive & educational program called Mission Control Academy, where students from all backgrounds can get the opportunity of conducting a mock planetary rover mission with a real rover using our web-based operations interface that we offer as a part of our Mission Control Software.

As we send more and more missions to the Moon and beyond, we strongly believe in leveraging our technologies to help inspire the next generation of students to get excited about space exploration and follow their dreams.

Our Mission Control Software can not only help make future planetary exploration missions more productive for operations teams, but it can also help them bring students and the general public along for the ride.

Mission Control Academy - students operating a rover
Students operating our rover using our Mission Control Software, as part of a interactive and immersive educational Mission Control Academy session.


Bringing the Moon to Earth

A Guest Blog by Braden Stefanuk

Braden is an MASc student at Concordia University and is working with Mission Control as a Robotics and Machine Learning Specialist. In the Fall of 2020, Braden helped us develop our indoor lunar analogue testbed and our AI technologies as part of the ASAS-CRATERS project. Read about his experience below.

In the early days of my collaboration with Mission Control we held bi-weekly conversations about research directions that could serve to benefit both my research lab and their company. During these first several months, I found the team at Mission Control to be dedicated, passionate, and unafraid to have some fun in the process. When they began to conduct preliminary research into one of their newest software technologies (ASAS-CRATERS), I was immediately compelled to join the project. Though my relationship with Mission Control began in a purely academic form, it has since evolved into a strong, enduring collaboration.

Before being brought fully on-board as a research and development intern, I had a number of preconceptions about Mission Control and what the opportunity had in store for me. For example, I knew that they were an up-and-coming company, I knew of their legendary field expeditions to Iceland and White Sands, and I knew that they had a great reputation for quality and professionalism within the space industry. Even with these highly held preconceptions, my internship turned out to be a much more diverse and interesting experience than I had expected.

Throughout my internship my days were filled with a fascinating mixture of 3D modeling, software development, research on lunar geologic processes, technical documentation, and conversations with space experts all around the globe. I held discussions with roboticists from the Canadian Space Agency and other space companies, and lunar scientists from universities across Canada. During this time I also presented at the i-SAIRAS 2020 conference, gaining invaluable insight into possible directions for future work, and learning much about myself, especially how I perform under pressure.

Braden collecting images from a micro-rover’s perspective to build a high-volume dataset for training and benchmarking our ASAS-CRATERS deep learning models.

Despite my multi-faceted role at Mission Control, my internship work culminated in the construction of an indoor lunar analogue terrain at their Ottawa headquarters. Originally, this terrain served as a platform where I collected high-fidelity visual data to aid in the creation of new machine learning algorithms. Now, in conjunction with the education and outreach team, individuals around the world will have access to Mission Control’s indoor terrain to help train future rover operators, developing a hands-on understanding of mission-level constraints that may be faced in actual lunar exploration.

Beyond the experience that I gained at Mission Control, the best part of interning with them was the positive, future-focused work environment. From the executives to the interns, the whole team works closely and cooperatively. I found that—even as an intern—I was accepted as a valuable part of the team, and that my opinions were not only heard, but respected.


Braden is an MASc student at Concordia University and is working with Mission Control as a Robotics and Machine Learning Specialist. Before joining the team he was the payload and remote sensing lead for Space Concordia’s CubeSat. He received an Honours BSc in Physics from the University of Calgary and is an avid outdoorsman, sports enthusiast, and hobbyist musician.

Connect with Braden on LinkedIn to say hi!


Announcement: Mission Control Awarded $1.2M to develop Payload Data Management System for Commercial Lunar Missions

Mission Control is pleased to announce a $1.16M contribution award from the Canadian Space Agency’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program to develop and commercialize a novel computing system for Lunar missions!

This technology development funding is intended to help Mission Control enter the supply chains of companies offering commercial Lunar missions.

In this project, Mission Control will develop a dedicated flight computer that can be easily installed on Lunar spacecraft to manage data from multiple payloads and offer edge computing.

Read more about the project in our press release.


From Cubesats to Mars: Space Health with no Limits

A Guest Blog by Donya Naz Divsalar

Donya is a Master of Sciences student at the Aerospace Physiology Laboratory at Simon Fraser University. In the summer of 2020, Donya worked with Mission Control under a Mitacs internship to help design a variant of our Mission Control Software platform for medical applications in spaceflight. Read about her experience below.

As a kid, I read many books and watched lots of sci-fi shows about travelling and choosing a habitat in outer space or on another planet’s surface. The technology, the fascinating descriptions and shots of outer space, and the struggles the main character would come across during their travel, all added so much excitement to the already exciting idea the story revolved around: space travel.

I grew up in a country where choosing a career in aerospace was not an option for women. Before I moved to Canada, I wasn’t even sure I would ever have a chance to pursue a career in anything space-related. As a scientist trained in medical fields, I pursued an undergraduate degree in epidemiology of infectious diseases. After working with some awesome student groups at SFU who build CubeSats, founding SFU Aerospace, and writing multiple papers on astronaut health, I was more curious than ever about designing and building medical payloads for small satellites. Three years later, and now I’m finishing up a Master’s degree in aerospace physiology, a truly “out of this world” journey if you ask me!

The ALEASAT Cubesat. Credit: UBC / SFU

My Master’s degree took me through many amazing opportunities, especially many national and international conferences. During one of these conferences, I was connected with the Mission Control team and learnt about their super exciting rover technology. The Mission Control team wanted to get more involved in space health and that was exactly what I was and am working on, so we decided to embark on a collaboration through Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship; a coast-to-coast collaboration filled with new experiences that truly brought people from two very different backgrounds together. After all, that’s the beauty of working in aerospace fields; there are really no boundaries to how much you can learn!

Though I didn’t get to travel to Ottawa because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite working remotely, I ended up learning so much more than I had envisioned. I learnt how to do my first design requirements document, test planning, and mission development, all of which are extremely useful in aerospace careers. Aerospace physiology is typically considered a very niche area, but despite that I was learning the skills applicable to practically any technical or scientific job. As graduate students, we sometimes tend to get isolated in research and thesis work, deal with data for days on end, and lose touch with the industry. Working with Mission Control team really opened my eyes to what possible career options I would have post-graduation, and how I can contribute to the Canadian space science by working on awesome space projects. Most importantly, I got to work with very intelligent and cool team members who always supported me and had my back, especially when I was just starting to learn the new skills.

Doing a project-based internship can be intimidating, especially if you’ve only worked in research fields prior to that, but I think that’s what every scientist needs to get involved with to gain further understanding of their field. If you are considering doing an internship in your graduate studies, especially in aerospace, I highly recommend doing so. Our space industry is more multidisciplinary than ever, and there is a need for people from all disciplines to come together and work on humankind’s next journey in space. For the past three years, I have actively worked on creating a multidisciplinary environment for all SFU students to work on aerospace projects, and I would like to thank the Mission Control team for letting me take a big step towards that goal. Aerospace for all!


Donya obtained her BSc. Honours degree from Simon Fraser University in Health Sciences in 2019 and is currently a Master of Sciences student with Aerospace Physiology Laboratory at SFU. Her undergraduate honours thesis focused on the effects of cosmic radiation on reversal of HIV latency using a CubeSat payload. She is the founder of SFU Aerospace; the second student-run aerospace organization in Canada, and also a winner of 2019 Surrey Board of Trade Top 25 under 25. Besides working on her thesis, Donya spends her time as the science lead of SFU Satellite Design team to bring science and CubeSat technology together by designing unique biological and medical payloads.

Through her graduate studies, Donya focuses on the effects of microgravity on physiological responses in human body. She is studying bedrest as an analog for space to assess physiological deconditioning in astronauts, and centrifugation as a countermeasure for reversing the adverse effects of spaceflight on human body. She is also working with engineering students at SFU on developing biotechnological and biomedical advancements that aim to mitigate the negative physiological effects of long-term space travel.

Follow Donya on Instagram to stay up to date on her future work.


Announcement: Mission Control Intelligence

Mission Control is excited to announce Mission Control Intelligence (MCI): a joint project with Axiom Research Labs to demonstrate AI-powered autonomy on a micro-rover ahead of commercial missions to the Moon. Read more about it here and our press release!


Mission Control awarded Phase 0 contract for LEAP Science Instrument

Mission Control is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a Science Instrument Phase 0 contract by the Canadian Space Agency under the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program!

I-SPI (Intelligent Sensing and Perception in Infrared) is a novel AI-integrated infrared imaging system for Lunar exploration. Read more about it on our I-SPI project page.