Interview: How Luxspace is developing an affordable and reliable satellite platform, called Triton-X

We interviewed Stefano Redi who works as a Systems Engineer, and Jeroen Buursink, Luxspace’s Chief Engineer, to find out more about their Project, Triton-X, and to know how Valispace is helping them manage their satellite development.

  • Industry: Space
  • Location: Betzdorf, Luxembourg
  • Employees: 60+
 What’s the vision of LuxSpace’s Triton-X program?

The Triton-X program has the main objective to allow LuxSpace to fill in the gap between traditional space players and the newcomers, mainly active in the Cubesat domain. At LuxSpace we are combining the knowledge and quality from the established space industry and the benefits of New Space, such as low cost, short delivery times and high flexibility, without compromising on reliability. We aim for scalability, as well as adaptability to ensure we can meet a wide range of missions in different application domains. This is why the development of Triton-X is being addressed not as the development of a single platform, but as the development of an extended product line.

We are trying to strike a balance between the “cowboys” and “classical institutions”.

Sounds like putting fire and ice together. How do you get your projects to have the best of both worlds?

It is definitely challenging to get the best out of both worlds. You need to be rigorous in what you are doing so that you build a technically competitive product but also avoid any excessive overhead to remain cost competitive. So we are trying to strike a balance between the “cowboys” and “classical institutions” by defining new methods and identifying a set of tools that give us the possibility to do so.

How do you collaborate with important partners? And how do you collaborate within the company?

LuxSpace is a system integrator. We are not vertically integrated and therefore collaboration and strategic partnerships are key to success for our products. Another key aspect to quickly respond to market changes. To do so, we are currently trialing with agile methods, adapting existing methods established for software engineering to our specific needs, and defining unique processes. This has already boosted our collaboration internally and with external strategic partners. Furthermore, we are applying the same principle and defining a leaner approach to project reviews in collaboration with ESA. Instead of reviewing the design only during rigid milestone dates, we try to give access to the design at any point in time and exchange data more fluently, which enables everyone to be on the same page at any time and effectively contribute to the product development.

We believe we are on a good track, but there is also still a long way to go.

You spoke about the multi mission aspect. How do you reuse the hardware, but also the experience and lessons learned between the different missions?

We are defining re-usable processes and integrating the management of our own customers from the very beginning: that means we can re-use our common core and then extend hardware and processes to meet specific mission needs. The key is to think these interactions through from the beginning of the design.

Triton-X Constellation
What do you currently like best about using Valispace in your team?

Valispace has become the reference for all technical data for the complete mission, including for the multi-platform approach. For example, we are able to keep all engineering budgets in a single place and clearly track on a daily basis the current design status.

If you compare your current approach using Valispace with traditionally managed engineering projects; what would you say are the main differences?

Having the whole engineering team engaged in interacting and exchanging information over a single system has made a big difference to the typical work of having many separate excel files and documents maintained by people sitting on different desks. An entire set of questions, such as “is this the latest value?” or “where do I find this information” are not even a topic anymore.

We believe we will easily save 30% of our time, or even more with the data-driven engineering approach.

Do you have a feeling for how much time you have saved due to using Valispace?

We see Valispace as the first major step into digitizing our entire engineering toolchain. By the end of that activity, we believe we will easily save 30% of our time, or even more with the data-driven engineering approach. We can already see in the early phase now, that significant time is freed up both on the Systems Engineer’s as well as on the Architect’s sides.