Mission Control Software for Space Health Applications

The ALEASAT cubesat. Credit: SFU Satellite Design / UBC Orbit

Mission Control is thrilled to adapt its Mission Control Software (MCS) technology to a space health and life sciences application. The novel activity to design and develop a prototype real-time medical data transfer system for space health applications is being conducted in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU) Aerospace Physiology Laboratory (APL).

The SFU APL, a world-renowned international leader in spaceflight health research, conducts investigations into the negative effects of spaceflight on human physiology including deconditioning in the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, skeletal and neuromuscular systems.

In collaboration with members of SFU Aerospace, SFU APL is presently developing a Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC) to counter these issues. The production of artificial gravity through short-arm centrifugation may potentially provide a counter to the microgravity-induced fluid shift experienced through extended spaceflight in combination with exercise.

In partnership with SFU APL and SFU Satellite Design Team, Mission Control will design and develop MCS-APL, an operations system that provides user interfaces to operate one of the payloads of ALEASAT; a 1U CubeSat developed as a joint project between SFU Satellite Design Team and UBC Orbit. This payload uses a customized reaction wheel made by SFU undergraduate Mechatronic Systems Engineering students as a scale model of the SAHC being developed by SFU APL on the ground. MCS-APL will enable SFU APL to visualise SAHC data and apply control parameters and mission operations teams to interface with ALEASAT payload operations.

MCS is a mission operations suite of software services that allows users around the world to monitor and command remote assets using a cloud-based server. MCS was originally designed as a distributed ground-based software framework to enable the operation of payloads and rovers, using advanced algorithms independent of the flight system’s processing capabilities. MCS has been developed and tested in dozens of analogue rover missions led by Mission Control. This system has been sold commercially and used in hundreds of hours of remote robotic mission operations since 2016, including for CSA and NASA funded lunar and Mars analogue missions and dozens of education and public outreach activities through our Mission Control Academy.

Together, Mission Control, APL, and the SFU Satellite Design Team, will consider industry standards and protocols to design an interface platform and operational protocol that will be used to transmit and validate simulated health data from orbital and ground-based systems to researchers at remote locations.

In the long term, this project will provide a reliable protected health-data transfer user interface system for satellite and ground-based facilities. It will facilitate live physiological data transmission from the centrifuge prototype to ground stations around Canada. The project will help to enable remote experiment and data collection management across Canada and the world, such that sensitive medical information obtained during SAHC and other experiments such as BP, ECG, and EMG can be accessed in real-time by the researcher at any location. The project is key due to significance of patient medical information privacy and challenges in remote real-time medically confidential data transfer. This Mitacs-supported project will help Mission Control and SFU APL to tackle these challenges by designing a unique protocol for medical information transfer that is aligned with patient information privacy and achieves the goal of real-time data transfer in a national and international scope, acting as a stepping stone for space health missions, with benefits at home for tele-medicine and remote communities.


Iceland & Space Exploration on CBC Radio’s ‘Ideas’

Delighted to be featured in CBC Radio’s ‘Ideas’ podcast alongside our SANDE partners, Texas A&M and NASA.

From Iceland’s similarities to the Red Planet, mythology, NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission and space exploration in the Anthropocene age, it’s full of interesting ‘ideas’, and showcases why we selected to visit Iceland to test out our rover technology and simulate Mars missions!

Read about it, and listen to the podcast here:


A Message from our CEO. Black Lives Matter.

A message from our CEO:

Today we are joining the #ShutDownSTEM movement and standing with our Black friends and colleagues against systemic racism. We have been listening these past few weeks to the important conversations that are taking place and reflecting deeply on how we can make a difference in our corner of the space industry.

Black Lives Matter. At Mission Control, we want to make it unequivocally clear where we stand on racism: we have never and will never tolerate it in our workplace. We hope that the culture that we have cultivated thus far has made it clear that we celebrate and value diversity and inclusion in our workplace. However recent events have prompted reflection about how to move beyond celebrating and valuing diversity and inclusion, and actively integrating anti-racist and anti-oppressive policies and practices, within our workplace culture. We know that there are further steps we can take to listen, reflect, improve, and give back – for the sake of our current employees, our future employees, students and our customers and partners in the industry. This is not a one-day effort; the work has just begun, and it will probably never end. We hope to be transparent along the way.

Our leadership team is working on a vision and tactical steps to weave antiracist ideals into the cloth of Mission Control. These are issues that we cannot shy away from in an effort to build a company our employees and partners are proud of work for and with.

For #ShutDownSTEM today, we are providing our employees the opportunity to take some paid time off and direct that time towards educating, learning, and reflecting. We have compiled (and will continue to compile) and shared resources internally on systemic oppression and racism in Canada and what steps we can take as individuals and as a company to dismantle this system. We are devoting thought and resources to make meaningful change, including examining our internal policies and practices, and our Mission Control Academy curricula to ensure it is accessible and responsive to the diverse contexts for learning across Canada.

Space is for everyone, and we can each play a part in making it that way.


Lunar Missions Panel – Online Event

This Thursday May 7 , Ewan is joining a very stacked panel to discuss the future of Lunar Missions, put on by our friends at the Swedish Space Corporation and Astroagency.

To register for the event for free, please sign up here. Hope to catch you at the panel!


ASAS-CRATERS Announcement!

Mission Control is excited to announce a contract awarded by the Canadian Space Agency for the development of a novel payload to advance lunar scientific exploration. Read more about our amazing partners and collaborators in our press release!


Canada Reaches for the Moon!

The Canadian Space Agency awarded 7 contracts worth a total of $4.36 million to 5 companies and one university to advance concepts for nano- and micro-rovers, and autonomous science instruments – part of LEAP (Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program). These advancements will serve as the first steps towards landing and conducting Canadian science on the surface of the Moon! Mission Control is excited to be among those announced:


Mission Control Academy – EPO

Part of the Mission Control Academy experience is letting our participants act out real roles in a planetary rover mission, including acting as our PAO (Public Affairs Officer) to do EPO: Education & Public Outreach!
Education & Public Outreach in a mission is incredibly important to help involve the public and encourage support and understanding of the exciting exploration work happening in space. EPO is a critical part of any science mission, keeping people and especially students engaged, and strengthening their understanding and connection to space missions.
Starting this Friday, Oct 18th, our new Mission Control Academy Twitter Account will be showcasing the experience of students at Waltrip High (Houston) & Woodroffe High (Ottawa) as they drive our Rover prototype all the way in Montreal at the CSA Mars Yard.

These 2 Mission Control Academies are delivered as part of our SANDE project.

Follow along on our social media accounts!


SAND-E & Mission Control Academy

Mission Control is excited to announce a deployment of Mission Control Academy, our immersive, technology-based education and outreach program for students this fall at Waltrip High School in Houston, Texas, and Woodroffe High School in Ottawa, Ontario.
The program will take place over 2 weeks, during which time Mission Control scientists and engineers will deliver lessons to educate the students on planetary science, engineering and mission operations. The program will culminate on October 18th, 2019, when students in both Ottawa and Houston, will remotely operate a rover prototype deployed at the Canadian Space Agency Mars Analogue Terrain in Saint-Hubert, Canada, replicating the experience of executing a real mission to Mars. Media are welcome to attend the missions on October 18th either at the two schools.

Topics for the lecture/workshops include: ‘An introduction to the solar system and our galactic back yard’, ‘Why we explore space, and the careers available’, ‘Planetary science and the search for life’, ‘Rover systems and design’, and ‘Planning a Mars exploration mission’
Follow along with our social media channels and the hashtags #MissionControlAcademy and #SANDE!


Announcement: Partnership with Pleora Technologies!

Today we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with Pleora Technologies!
This partnerships that combines our respective expertise in real-time sensor networking and artificial intelligence (AI) for robotic control and automation to enable advanced driver assistance in local situational awareness (LSA) and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) applications. We will be ntegrating their RuggedCONNECT smart video switcher platform and our Vehicle/Terrain AI Safety System. This AI capability is the evolution of our patented ASAS technology originally developed for space applications with the support of the Canadian Space Agency!

Spinning off space technology for terrestrial applications is a strength of the Canadian Space industry. Read the press release here.

2019 – SAND-E Press Coverage

We are very excited to share the story about our SAND-E Mission, which took place from July 8-August 5th in Iceland. Our team tested the prototype rover and a drone meant to showcase the potential capabilities of NASA’s Mars 2020 helicopter. Read about our exciting research and mission here!