Exploring the benefits of digital twins in the space satellite industry with Cambridge University

A new report launched today has shown the major impact digital twin technology is having on the space satellite industry, along with a technology roadmap to overcome the barriers to implementation.

Babcock is the lead industry contributor in the paper, Digital twins: Thought leadership in the satellite industry, published by the Institute for Manufacturing, part of Cambridge University which will be delivered to UK Government this week.

Examining the design, implementation and potential benefits of digital twins in the satellite industry, the report authors Dr Veronica Martinez and Nicolai Huss also created the first roadmap, bridging the gap between company strategy and implementation.

Jon Hall, Babcock Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, said: “We’re working in an era where digital and data technologies are having a real impact on so many areas of our businesses and lives – digital twins being one of them. This means it is less about the twin creation and more about adoption of digital twins in businesses and create real value in better asset performance.”

Co-author, Dr Veronica Martinez explains how the report findings show a strong strategic desire to provide value-added services in the space industry, driven by changing market conditions towards flexibility and digitalisation, adding that “digital twins offer value on an operational level, through things like predictive maintenance, on a communication network and security level, for example through modelling threat management, and on an integrated systems level, combining different satellite constellations into one network.”

The report also defines the challenges to implementing and realising the benefits of satellite digital twins, including a lack of cultural acceptance and cyber security challenges. Skills also present a challenge: in the future, firms seeking to compete by developing digital twins will require a digitally enabled workforce equipped with both technical expertise and a strategic, data-driven mindset.

The report and accompanying roadmap were completed with contributions from Babcock, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and the UK National Space Agency.

The full report is now available to download here.