SECESA 2022 event logo

On 5-7 October, delegates from across the world came together online in the 10th International Systems & Concurrent Engineering for Space Applications Conference (SECESA 2022) to exchange ideas and experiences, and debate challenges and future trends.

RHEA’s system engineering and concurrent design experts presented several papers across the three days of SECESA. They also ran the first ever online concurrent design ‘game’ during the conference to demonstrate the methodology to attendees who had never taken part in a concurrent design session.

“This is the year of COMET,” announced consultant Massimo Bandecchi, founder of the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Concurrent Design Facility (CDF), as he opened SECESA 2022.

This year’s SECESA conference, which happens every 2 years, was the first since ESA announced earlier this year that it would use RHEA’s COMET software for all of its concurrent design studies at its CDF. Like RHEA’s previous concurrent design platform, CDP4, COMET is also widely used by other organizations. This resulted not only in a dedicated session on day two – “COMET: the stepping stone towards MBSE and digitalisation” – but also several presentations across all three days discussing COMET’s use in a wide range of projects.

Day one

RHEA’s experts, including former interns, took an active part in the conference across all three days.

Day one saw Gwendolyn Kolfschoten, RHEA Concurrent Design Expert, discuss lessons learned from RHEA’s 15 years of training concurrent design professionals, and present a case study on the implementation of concurrent design, including a dedicated facility, at the Defence Materiel Division of the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

Day two

On day two, in the session on COMET, Alex Vorobiev, Project Manager, covered work done by RHEA on the Digital Engineering Hub Pathfinder project and Justine Veirier D’aiguebonne, former MBSE Software Development Intern, walked through the latest developments in the creation of a web application for COMET’s Community Edition. Both presentations showed the great potential that COMET and the other related tools developed at RHEA can offer to the industry and specially to concurrent engineering teams.

The COMET session was rounded off by a presentation by Marcel Verhoef, ESA Systems Engineer, summarizing the latest developments related to COMET and how it has been adopted at ESA’s CDF at ESTEC.

COMET featured in the next session too, on ‘Concurrent Engineering & MBSE for Space Projects’. COMET is primarily designed for use in the early design stages of complex engineering projects, but in the PLATO space science mission it is being adapted for use in later phases of the project lifecycle – specifically as the mission parameter database.

Three more RHEA-led sessions rounded off day two. The first was by Alex Vorobiev on a recent project on generative concurrent design, in which possible solutions are generated automatically to broaden the range of options that can be considered. Second was by former intern Sergi Company Aguilar on the application of MBSE and generative concurrent design to a low Earth orbit constellation for Earth observation. Then the third was by Salvatore Vivenzio, Systems & CDF Engineer, on a new tool for spacecraft design.

Day three

The first session on day three on ‘Trends’ included two RHEA speakers, plus a presentation from RHEA Special Advisor Marco Lisi on the importance of security for space systems.

Paloma Maestro Redondo, Junior System Engineer, introduced the project ‘AI-powered Digital Assistant for Space System Engineering’, showing the potential applications of this technology that will form a powerful tool to be integrated with the MBSE Hub that RHEA is developing for ESA. This was followed by a presentation from Martin Fijneman, Concurrent Design Expert, on the LOTUS project, highlighting the advantages of security-aware concurrent design and the importance of assessing the impact of security measures early in the design stage of an engineering project.

Paloma Maestro Redondo presented again later on day three on the needs of non-expert modellers in reviewing MBSE models and the features that a new tool will offer future users.

Getting hands-on with concurrent design

This year’s SECESA included a novel way to introduce delegates to the concepts and challenges of concurrent design sessions through an online demonstration and ‘game’, held at lunchtime each day. This underscored the challenges that can arise when participants have different skillsets and effectively speak different languages. For example, is that shape a triangle facing right or an arrowhead pointing east? And who is best suited to judge which design of drone is best suited for agricultural use?

These ‘simple’ examples demonstrated how RHEA’s concurrent design sessions support domain experts to effectively explain how their subsystems are positioned in relation to each other, and how requirements from different domains can be integrated and their impact on the overall design can be assessed.

This game forms part of RHEA’s advanced training programme for concurrent design.