The STP TSX-5 mission, which launched in June 2000 and is still operating, was a spacecraft bus that interfaced with two main payloads via a MIL-STD-1553B data bus. The bus architecture and much of the hardware design was taken from heritage STEP missions. Tiger Innovations and/or its employees worked on the Experiment Interface Processor (EIP) and the vehicle integration and test portions of the STP TSX-5 mission. Tiger Innovations played a primary role in the design of the communication protocol used for inter-processor communications (there were three processors for the spacecraft bus) and vehicle-ground communications. Tiger Innovations had a significant amount of interaction with the ground system development team from the RSC at Kirtland AFB. We helped with the development of the operational methods for retrieving data (participating in a Tiger Team organized to solve some unexpected problems), and provided reference code to help the ground system in reconstructing the packetized data files.
Tiger Innovations participated in extensive interaction with the payloads, as part of the EIP design and software implementation effort. The two payloads were completely different; one was a simple experiment which did not require much data transfer or complicated control, and the other was a group of several different experiments, each with a variety of complicated control protocols, many of which could change depending upon on-orbit situations. In order to accommodate these differing control methods, we developed a set of basic building-block functions and a scripting language to implement aggregate user-defined operations. This method allowed for each of the payloads to control their own experiments, simultaneously, with a minimum of interaction/interference. We spent a great deal of time trying to ensure that the payloads would have all available means to control their experiments, to store and retrieve their data, and to generally get the most from their operational time on-orbit. Nearly all of this interaction was protocol and implementation related, and was primarily handled by Tiger Innovations.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was so impressed with Tiger Innovations’ capabilities, dedication, and attention to detail that they chose to contract us to assist with the development of on-orbit operational scripts for their TSX-5 payload (STRV-2). Additionally, we were contracted to support daily on-orbit operations for the primary life of the mission.