Customer Stories / Aerospace
Nominal Systems Delivers High-Fidelity Satellite Simulations Platform On AWS
Find out how the Australia-based software company helps aerospace businesses reduce satellite build and deployment time, costs, and risks in a secure, cost-efficient manner.
Nominal Systems is an Australia-based software company with a vision to help aerospace companies accomplish satellite missions with greater success. According to NASA, about 41.3 percent of all small satellites (100 to 500 kilograms) launched between 2000 and 2016 had experienced partial or complete failure.
With Nominal Systems’ digital engineering platform, companies can build, test and validate satellite designs and performance in a virtual environment, minimizing the risk of mission failure.
Founded in 2019, Nominal Systems is fully built and deployed on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The organization can quickly scale the performance of its digital twin technology and render high-fidelity, low-latency satellite simulations.
Opportunity | Overcoming Risk and Computing Capacity Constraints on AWS
When Nominal Systems was founded, it initially planned to develop a desktop-based digital twin software that aerospace businesses could deploy in their own on-premises infrastructure. However, this approach threw up some challenges.
A purpose-built satellite digital twin can generate and consume vast amounts of compute and storage capacity. Specifically, each virtual satellite has hundreds of component modules installed, generating dozens of gigabytes of data per satellite per simulation session. Often operators do this for dozens of spacecraft in their constellation. Also, a satellite digital twin would require costly, high-performing computers with graphic processing units to support high-fidelity visuals and simulations.
A typical industry approach today requires a set of comprehensive design requirements to be set, which are then proven through the physical build of an engineering model. An engineering model of a satellite is a physical replica and uses identical components, but only remains in a lab/testing environment. Engineering models are expensive to build and require months of man-hours to assemble. A digital-twin capability on the other hand, allows customers to prototype and prove functional design requirements quickly and at lower costs.
To solve for these, Nominal Systems decided to adopt a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model and host its platform on AWS. This approach would help the company to make its software available anywhere in the world addressing sovereign security and compliance requirements.
Aerospace is an industry that has little room for errors. With AWS, our digital twin platform can design, test, and simulate thousands of satellite deployments simultaneously so users can build confidence in their mission’s functionality and performance, all while maintaining high fidelity, performance, and security. AWS Professional Services also provided invaluable guidance in the design and implementation of our cloud infrastructure.”
Chief Technology Officer, Nominal Systems
Solution | Delivering Optimal Performance and Uncompromising Security Using AWS
In 2022, Nominal Systems worked with AWS and AWS Professional Services team to build and deploy its software on the cloud. Customers can easily replicate physics to a high-fidelity, simulate the behaviors of thousands of satellites in orbit and their interaction with ground assets—without having to worry about the costs of procuring and installing hardware. Nominal Systems estimates that its customers can save up to 84 percent in total modeling, simulation and IT spend for a given mission.
Nominal Systems uses Unreal Engine, a 3D computer graphics engine, to generate and display high-fidelity visuals within the digital twin environment. By using Amazon Elastic Graphics and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Nominal Systems can render high-fidelity graphics in real time with minimal lag, thus leading to a seamless user experience. In addition, it uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to store its virtual components required to build the digital twins.
Nominal Systems uses Amazon Cognito to seamlessly scale user authentication and access management for security. It now has access to a comprehensive suite of security and compliance controls on AWS, including data locality, protection, and confidentiality. The organization can now easily meet and scale the security and compliance requirements of its defense and commercial customers.
Nominal Systems also relies on Amazon API Gateway to create, maintain, and secure its digital twin Application Programming Interface (APIs) at scale. By using Amazon API Gateway, end customers can run multiple versions of the same API at optimal performance simultaneously with minimal latency.
Outcome | Scaling across Geographies and Industries
Nominal Systems’ robust digital twin platform has attracted high-profile customers, including the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MOD). To meet MOD’s requirements, Nominal Systems collaborated with UK-based Space Situational Awareness Specialists Northern Space and Security Limited (NORSS) to develop ARTSIM, an advanced spacecraft and mission simulator solution. With ARTSIM, MOD can develop and fully test a constellation of small low-Earth orbit satellites in a virtual environment before launch.
ARTSIM will support the complete mission lifecycle from initial design activities, through testing and verification, commissioning and in supporting spacecraft and mission operation as a ‘ground reference solution’ as well as end of life/disposal. Blending state-of-the-art simulation with high-quality visualizations, ARTSIM will provide a modular, event-driven, fully data representative satellite simulation architecture.
“In the short time since its inception NORSS has been blessed to meet and collaborate with some talented individuals and companies from overseas. This project is not only a natural extension of our continuing Space Situational Awareness development but also marks a significant and unprecedented collaboration across global hemispheres. We’re delighted to be working with the Nominal team on this project providing significant capabilities to the newly formed Space Command and excited about the additional benefits our partnership will create,” said Ralph “Dinz” Dinsley, founder of NORSS.
Leveraging the flexibility and security of AWS, Nominal Systems developed, tested, and delivered ARTSIM months faster than if MOD had procured and deployed the solution on its own on-premises cloud infrastructure.
On the sustainability front, Nominal Systems hopes that its digital twin technology will minimize the failure rate of satellite launches and reduce the number of orbital debris in space.
“Aerospace is an industry that has little room for errors. With AWS, our digital twin platform can design, test, and simulate thousands of satellite deployments simultaneously so users can build confidence in their mission’s functionality and performance, all while maintaining high fidelity, performance, and security. AWS Professional Services also provided invaluable guidance in the design and implementation of our cloud infrastructure,” said Brenton Smith, chief technology officer (CTO) at Nominal Systems.
Nominal Systems also plans to further develop and scale its API capabilities using the Accelerating Commercialization grant from the Australian Government. By growing these capabilities, Nominal Systems will be able to handle greater levels of traffic and workload as the organization expands to new markets, such as India, Japan, the Middle East, and the US.
About Nominal Systems
Nominal Systems is an Australia-based software company with a vision to maximize the success rate of every satellite deployment in space. Using its digital twin platform, companies can proactively test and validate satellite designs and performance in a fully virtual environment, which minimizes the odds of partial or complete mission failure.
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) offers the broadest and deepest compute platform, with over 600 instances and choice of the latest processor, storage, networking, operating system, and purchase model to help you best match the needs of your workload.
Amazon Elastic Graphics
Amazon Elastic Graphics allows you to easily attach low-cost graphics acceleration to a wide range of EC2 instances.
With Amazon Cognito, you can add user sign-up and sign-in features and control access to your web and mobile applications.
Learn more »
Amazon API Gateway
Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale.
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