Atlas Space Operations upgraded its user interface to help customers schedule communications and verify that data was transmitted. Credit: Atlas Space Operations

LOGAN, Utah – Atlas Space Operations upgraded its user interface to make it easier for customers to schedule communications with their satellites and to quickly confirm whether data was transmitted.

Through the new user interface, Atlas shares the data and metrics the company gathers at each ground site for every satellite pass.

“Through our user interface, our customers can see all of the checks that our operations team goes through and flags for every single pass,” Brad Bode, Atlas founder, chief technology officer and chief information officer, told SpaceNews. “That gives the operators insight into how our team determines the success or failure of a pass. Passes don’t fail that often, but people want to know what’s going on.”

By sharing information on each pass, Atlas also is “empowering customers to solve problems as quickly as possible,” Bode said.

If a satellite fails to transmit data during a pass, for instance, the user interface shares that information with the satellite operator.

“That tool is important to put in the hands of those customers who don’t have a large software team that can code the solution,” Bode said. “We as an operations team know what to look at and we want to offer that to our customers for free.”

The new user interface also is designed to make it easier for customers to schedule satellite passes. The satellite operator can visualize the passes that have the highest probability of being awarded or scheduled.

“It affords the satellite operator, especially the one who only has one or two satellites, the ability to visualize which passes are the highest probability of success or guaranteed to succeed as opposed to guessing,” Bode said. “A lot of times, customers ask for a pass, get rejected and ask for another one without knowing what’s available or not available.”

To remedy that, Atlas is exposing its scheduling through the user interface.

For every time a customer’s satellite will be visible overhead and communications are possible, Atlas shows the likelihood of contact.

If the likelihood is 100 percent for a specific pass, that means there is no conflict in the entire Atlas network and communications is virtually guaranteed.

“If you have an urgent task, you want to choose the visibility that is 100% free,” Bode said. “Now if you see 80% free, you can request a little less of the visibility. What we’re saying is you can get request a little less time and we’ll get it for you, rather than an all or nothing approach.”

Atlas revised its user interface to help companies or government agencies without extensive satellite communications experience.

“We want to foster a new community of what everyone is calling NewSpace,” Bode said. “But it’s complicated and takes a long time. We have to use software abstract away some of these problems and make them easier to solve until people can get fully machine-to-machine integrated.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...