Logica Space Division provided the mission-critical control systems to EUTELSAT, a major European satellite telecommunications operator, for its fleet of 15-20 satellites.

Task: Upgrade and Maintain Satellite Control Systems

As Senior Software Engineer for Logica’s Space Division, an Unusual Systems staff member was engaged to support and update the system in a rigorously checked DevOps process.

Activities included:

  • Leading a team of three to develop a Summary Alarm Facility in C++ on Windows that monitored critical components at a Satellite Control Ground Station and raised suitable alarms when they failed
  • Various anomaly investigations and fixes, working in C and FORTRAN on OpenVMS, including Y2K testing of Turksat’s Satellite Control Centre systems.
  • On-site support, locating and fixing problems at both backup and live operational sites.
  • Writing proposals including: a new satellite type, packet-based telemetry, a launch & early orbit phase control centre, the public interface for the Galileo satellite navigation system and an object-oriented framework for telemetry.
  • Our support team continuously improved the reliability and resilience of these control systems, reducing the frequency and length of system downtime and so reducing this disruptive cost to the satellite operator.

Task: Port Satellite Control System

As the VMS hardware was about to become obsolete, as Senior Software Architect for Logica’s Space Division an Unusual Systems staff member was tasked to prove an upgrade path to new hardware and then as Project Manager lead the upgrade. This was a complex legacy system, the budget was highly challenging, and for historic reasons the project was high profile.

Tasks included:

  • Designing a new architecture based on a ported FORTRAN backend and a configurable Java UI
  • Planning the port of the FORTRAN/C system with a Motif front-end running on VMS, to a mixed FORTRAN/Java system running on Unix and Windows.
  • Day-to-day project management: tracking progress against plan, re-scoping as required, engaging directly with the Space Division’s director, supporting a team of 16-20 engineers under high pressure, and managing customer expectations.
  • With a team of four other engineers, developing a configurable suite of real-time satellite monitoring and control displays using Java Swing and TCP/IP telemetry streams.


The delivered system de-risked a critical business uncertainty, and our customer avoided a multi-million euro spend on a full software port.
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