Lessons learnt from operating ESEO

Since 2003, the Microsatellite and Space Microsystems Lab at the University of Bologna (UniBo) has extended his research activities to the design of a ground segment for small satellites missions. In the framework of the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO), an ESA Education Office project for the development of a microsatellite mission, with SITAEL S.p.A. as the Industrial System Prime Contractor, the first-generation GS has been upgraded to support ESEO operations. UniBo was in charge for the design and development of the Mission Control Centre (MCC), the implementation of the primary ground station for telemetry and telecommand operations, and of the secondary one for the downlink of payloads data. ESEO was launched on December 3rd, 2018. Soon after launch, the activities planned for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) were forced to be held back due to the lack of success in commanding the spacecraft. After weeks of coordinated efforts among spacecraft operators, spacecraft engineers and ESA technical staff, LEOP activities could be resumed, thanks to the support of the radio amateur community and of ES5PC ground station in Tartu. Since then, new challenges are coming, which need to be faced for ESEO mission to advance further: this paper provides a thorough perspective of the achievements and lessons learnt during these months of operations.

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