Let’s first take a closer look at the basics of conceptual system design. This will help to understand the contextual problems associated with the conceptual design process:

  • Fuzzy mission and system requriements at the beginning of the design project make “clean-cut” solutions impossible
  • Mission and system elements are strongly interdependent (network-type problem)
  • Most important project decisions are made at the beginning, which then are driving the cost, schedule and risk associated with the mission throughout its lifetime
  • Conceptual design results are crucial for “stop/go” decisions

From these basic statements, requirements for a conceptual design methodology can be deduced. It should:

  • Cover analysis, design, simulation and evaluation
  • Implement multidisciplinary elements
  • Enable a heuristic, non-sequential approach using baseline concepts and interactive iteration techniques
  • Provide adapted computer tools to support rapid conceptual design in a coherent environment

These requirements result in the main objectives of the SSDW:

  • Allow for conceptual design and optimization studies for space stations and platforms within a few days, performed by a small design team
  • Allow for realistic education in systems engineering by providing easy-to-use tools and offering design workshops for hands-on experience
  • Support space station utilization with respect to overall system questions and through assessment of experiment specific boundary conditions

One advantage of this approach is that synergisms on the system- and subsystem level can be modeled and thus put to use in the design.

Concurrent Design Facility

To support the presented design methodology, a mobile Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) was established at the Institute of Space Systems. It consists of multiple work stations with fixed roles in the system design, which are connected through a network. Work stations are equipped with the basic office tools and were selected for the optimal use of specific software required for the respective subgroup. Auxillary components like a projector, flipchart and printer are available to the working group throughout the project. The facility is identical for both teams. An exemplary overview is given in the figure below.