The Space Electronics Systems Development Branch is responsible for the transition from spacecraft concept to a final product. In this role, the Branch performs concept development and provides expertise needed to economically develop, implement, and test the concept. The Branch provides detailed electrical/electronic design, fabrication, test, integration, launch, and on-orbit support of the spacecraft. It defines and fabricates systems, subsystems, and special test equipment and develops plans and procedures needed to test, launch, and maintain the spacecraft. The Branch participates in standards generation/maintenance, concept development, advanced system development, ground support equipment development, and application development, as required, to perform its mission. The Space Electronics System Development Branch includes five sections:
RF Systems (Code 8241):
Develops, tests, and integrates spacecraft antenna systems.
Flight Systems (Code 8242):
The Flight Systems section designs, constructs, tests, and integrates space flight electronic circuits, card level designs and chassis' in support of NRL payloads and spacecraft busses. This work includes: 1) the completion of analysis such as worst case timing, failure modes and effects, parts stress derating and radiation survivability to ensure all circuitry will continue to function properly in the space environment throughout the mission duration; and 2) the environmental testing of the hardware to include random vibration, thermal cycling, thermal vacuum, and EMI/EMC. These environmental tests are performed in the NRL 8200 Payload Processing Facility. The functions provided by these hardware designs include payload and spacecraft control, uplink command and downlink telemetry interfaces, high speed data transfer and routing, on board data storage and data processing, and telemetry collection and conversion. Given the section's responsibilities the engineers have specific expertise in space flight processors, memory devices, high speed bus standards, FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) design, and VHDL (VHSIC Hardware Description Language) coding. Code 8242 also supports spacecraft system level activities such as space vehicle integration and test, and systems engineering functions. The Flight Systems section is also responsible for the specification, design and fabrication of space flight harnesses. This includes the selection and specification of space flight harness materials, including wires, connectors, contacts, back shells and EMI overwrap.
Systems Integration (Code 8243):
Code 8243 brings together the components and subsystems of satellites and space experiments in preparation for launch and operations. This typically requires the design and development of specialized sets of test equipment to support the iterative testing and assembly of spaceflight hardware. Hardware and software are combined to simulate the interfaces to the spacecraft and its components to test the proper functioning of the spacecraft, as well as to allow "day in the life" testing to verify operational scenarios. Various test environments are employed to check out electronics boxes and integrated space vehicles to ensure they will operate properly under space and launch conditions, including thermal vacuum cycling, vibration and acoustic testing, and electromagnetic and radio frequency testing. The Integration and Test section provides the equipment needed, builds up flight hardware systems, verifies proper operation, and executes automated testing for NCST spacecraft and space technology implementations.
Power Systems Instrumentation (Code 8244):
Participates in the design and development of spacecraft sensor instrumentation, such as voltage, current, and temperatures and allows ground crews to monitor spacecraft functions and health during flight operations.
Embedded Software (Code 8245):
The primary responsibility of Code 8245 is to embed flight software for satellite applications. Included with this responsibility is the task to develop and maintain a core re-usable flight software capability available to provide mission specific program requirements. The code is also responsible for development and maintenance of the NRL Command Ground Architecture (CGA) command and control software. Embedded Software supports integration and test activities, on-orbit operations, and provides software systems engineering support to the flight design, integration and testing, and operations teams. They also support independent software reviews and assessments to external programs.