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Continuous Training for Supporting Long-term Payload Missions

B.USOC, the Belgian User Support and Operations Centre, is the centre responsible for the operations of ESA’s SOLAR payload, which is externally accommodated on the Columbus Module and has been operating continuously since February 2008. The B.USOC operators, as all ISS ground Support Personnel have successfully followed the specific training and certification programme which guarantee the operational safety and mission success to the maximum extent. This certification programme mainly consists of the internal qualification and the successful participation of a number of European Simulations (ES) and Joint Multi-Segment Trainings (JMST), organized by ESA/EAC and NASA, respectively. The certification permits operators to execute on-console operations on a specific payload. However, a long-term and complex mission like SOLAR calls for additional, payload specific training. The B.USOC has set up an internal qualification programme for future SOLAR operators. The already certified operators receive continuous training through refresher sessions, optimisation boards, operations tools, and practical exercises. Especially during long-term missions, where payload operations are optimized continuously and become routine, the acquired skills and knowledge of the operators need to be maintained at a high level in order to achieve a successful mission. I. Introduction or the operations of the European Payloads on-board the International Space Station (ISS), ESA has adopted a decentralized infrastructure, based on the concept of the User Support and Operations Centres (USOCs). Each USOC is assigned to support the majority of tasks related to the preparation and the in-flight operations of European payloads. USOCs are generally located in national centres across Europe. The B.USOC (Belgian User Support and Operation Centre) is a USOC set up by ESA and the Belgian Science Policy Office. Within the Columbus general framework, the B.USOC is the Facility Responsible Centre (FRC) for the Solar Monitoring Observatory (SOLAR). SOLAR (Figure 1) is an integrated platform accommodating three instruments complementing each other to allow measurements of the solar spectral irradiance throughout a large part of the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) to the near infrared (IR)1,2. 1 B.USOC Training Responsible, Space Applications Services, 2 B.USOC Training Responsible, Space Applications Services, 3 B.USOC SOLAR Operator, Space Applications Services, 4 B.USOC Project Manager, B.USOC, F Figure 1:

YAMCS - A Mission Control System

In mission control centers, a major part of the ground segment is the front-end and backend software which is used to assist payload and system operators in their daily tasks. YAMCS (which stands for “Yet Another Mission Control System” and is pronounced as yams, the sweet potato) is a software package which has been created for long-term payload operations. YAMCS is currently implemented at two User Support and Operations Centres (USOCs) as an extension to ESA’s standard Mission Control System (MCS) for Columbus. This lightweight YAMCS integrates into the existing USOC architecture, fulfilling specific mission related needs that the standard MCS is not capable of.