The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is a government organization committed to promoting the development and application of space knowledge for the social and economic benefit of Canadians and humanity. The Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TT&C) team within the CSA is responsible for ensuring clear and uninterrupted communication between satellites, both Canadian and European, and ground stations. The team also maintains and upgrades the communication equipment and software at Canadian ground stations. Until recently, TT&C used a commercially written Simplified General Perturbations Satellite Orbit Model 4 (SGP4) propagator to predict the position of satellites, as shown in Figure 1. This aspect of tracking allows for the proper orientation of the communications antenna, known as the antenna pointing angle. However, the SGP4 propagator program had several shortcomings in addition to being out of date with current satellite tracking software requirements.
Ilia B. Baranov, a University of Waterloo co-op student, was hired to develop an updated in-house version of the propagator software, based on existing source code.
This case study is intended for introduction to some of the basic methods and principles used by software engineers, including Software development cycle, fundamentals of technical communication, measurement, analysis, and design.