Moving away from "Many to One" Spacecraft Controlling
At OneWeb I oversaw the ground up building of our spacecraft controlling software. As we neared the launch of our initial 6 satellites, the meaning of F6, our focus was on distilling the expertise of our Senior Aerospace Professionals into intuitive web applications that a new generation of spacecraft controllers could use with minimal training. F6 refers to the First 6 satellites that were launched on February 27, 2019.
Historically, all spacecraft management has occured with a team of controllers assigned to a single spacecraft. OneWeb's goal is to eventually maintain a constellation of 1000 satellites so the development of tools was crucial to our ability to scale in the near future. In a field that is para-militaristic in its adherence to structure and precedent, this posed the biggest hurdle as the culture needed to be changed to accept radical change and new workflows.
Over the course of two years, I led weekly research and design workshops to understand the latest usecases and historical context of the industry I was working within. Every aspect of Product Design needed to not only be justified but researched and debated with stakeholders. Unlike a typical product lifecycle where development and deployment is constant, deployment of the software required a month lead time as it needed ot be extensively tested and approved.
From a design standpoint this meant that every feature needed to be production ready and even the smallest experiments needed to be high-fiedlity and have a hypothesis behind what they were proving.
In order to ensure that feedback was constant and gave everyone a voice we created a feedback and critque workflow that allowed input to surface from all over the command center both synchronously and asynchronously. In pratice this meant deciphering and searching mocked up powerpoints and emails that ultimately allowed people to feel as though the software was responsive to their needs and trust to be built.
Atlassian and Jira for satellites
Ultimately, the suite of software consisted of close to a dozen tools each customized to a specific spacecraft controller role. The metaphor of "Atlassian for satellites" allowed us to really focus on ensuring that each tool was single-serving while maintaining cohession across our visual language.