European Space Agency Deploys PROBA Satellite Using Wind River Technology

7/24/2002 - Wind River Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: WIND), a leading provider of software and services for connected devices, today awarded the European Space Agency (ESA) its "Cool Customer Design" award for the PROBA (Project for On-Board Autonomy) micro-satellite system the first ESA spacecraft with fully autonomous capabilities. The PROBA satellite operates virtually unaided by ESA staff on the ground with the help of Wind River's market-leading VxWorks® real-time operating system (RTOS). PROBA is currently in orbit 600 kilometers above the Earth's surface, testing the validity of self-functioning space technologies and performing several scientific activities to monitor the health of our planet.

"We chose Wind River's VxWorks operating system for PROBA because of its robustness and proven reliability on space missions," said Dominique Baudoux, Space Business Unit Program Manager for Spacebel the subcontractor responsible for providing PROBA's flight software. "Because PROBA operates virtually unaided, we needed a trustworthy operating system capable of reliable operation while in space. PROBA is thus far a great success and we are very pleased with the software."

PROBA was launched via rocket by the Indian Space Research Organization and sent into orbit on October 22, 2001. Despite being very small in size and weight, the satellite boasts an extensive range of advanced capabilities and instrumentation. PROBA has the ability to observe the same spot on Earth from a number of different angles, and has already provided scientists with detailed environmental images through its compact high resolution imaging spectrometer (CHRIS) the main payload onboard the spacecraft. Data from the lightweight instrument are sent automatically from PROBA to ESA's ground station in Redu, Belgium, allowing scientists to develop tools for environmental monitoring, forest cataloging, crop forecasting and marine science.

Wind River's VxWorks RTOS controls all on-board functions of the PROBA satellite. The unique capabilities of the VxWorks RTOS also help enable PROBA to upload new versions of software as it orbits the earth. This functionality is based on Wind River's robust 'incremental linking' technology. The scalability of the VxWorks RTOS also proved extremely important, as the operating system memory footprint was reduced to a minimum while reliably controlling all on-board instruments, tests and communications. The VxWorks kernel accounts for less than ten percent of the total lines of code on-board PROBA.

"Wind River has a strong history in space exploration including major projects with NASA and other agencies like the ESA, which speaks to the proven reliability of our technology," said Steve Blackman, director of marketing for Wind River's aerospace and defense business unit. "Developers of spacecraft have been able to leverage Wind River's integrated, commercial-off-the-shelf software solutions and development tools to get to market much faster than by developing their own solutions or turning to other COTS vendors."

During its projected two-year lifetime, PROBA will be performing a series of scientific and housekeeping activities that can be planned, controlled and monitored by both the ground team and the satellite's on-board computer. Functions that will be tested for autonomy possibilities include scheduling and planning of scientific experiments, data collection, communications between PROBA, scientific users, and the ground team, management of routine satellite functions, and failure detection. Most satellites currently require interaction between the ground and the spacecraft to carry out similar activities.

For More Information
To learn more about PROBA, go to or to view photos of the earth taken by PROBA, including a shot of San Francisco, go to For more information on Wind River products and services, contact your local Wind River salesperson or go to

About ESA and PROBA
ESA, the European Space Agency, provides a vision of Europe's future in space, and of the benefits for people on the ground that satellites can supply. It also develops the strategies needed to fulfill the vision, through collaborative projects in space science and technology. PROBA is the result of ESA's collaboration with prime contractor Verhaert Design and Development of Belgium, working alongside other European countries and universities.

About Wind River
Wind River is a worldwide leader in embedded software and services for creating connected smart devices. Wind River provides software development tools, real-time operating systems, and advanced connectivity software for use in products throughout the Internet, telecommunications and data communications, digital imaging, digital consumer electronics, networking, medical, computer peripherals, automotive, industrial automation and control, and aerospace/defense markets. Wind River is How Smart Things Thinkô. Founded in 1983, Wind River is headquartered in Alameda, California, with operations worldwide.

Wind River Systems, the Wind River Systems logo, VxWorks, and How Smart Things Think are trademarks of Wind River Systems, Inc. All other names mentioned are trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks of their respective companies.

Jim Barillo
Wind River

Previous Page | News by Category | News Search

If you found this page useful, bookmark and share it on: