Author Topic: ANS - The first Dutch adventure in space - Documentary Trailer (now available)  (Read 6863 times)

Offline Paper Kosmonaut

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Hello everybody.
I do not post that often, I often feel a little overwhelmed here. But I have been working on a documentary for the last eight years (with hiatuses) about the ANS, the first satellite from the Netherlands. It features the people who created her (ANS is also a girl's name) telling anecdotes, the story of how the satellite came to be and the film is chock full with spectacular archive material, some of it almost never seen before.
The film still has to debut but we're almost ready with an English version (subtitles and all on-screen Dutch texts translated) for eventual release abroad.
Here's the English trailer:



Some background information about the film:
The film is made in cooperation with the National Spaceflight Museum (NRM) in the Netherlands, where it will be shown at the exhibition floor, where a new display showcase has been created to display all the leftover artefacts of ANS (one of the test vehicles, instruments etc.).

The museum display showcase has been built with money this film project has generated. When we were searching for funding for the film, we had talks with this fund that agreed to sponsor the film on condition we also involved a museum in the project. While I already had a good connection with the NRM (The aforementioned Dutch space museum), everything was arranged quite fast and so we got to make the film and the NRM got this great new specially built display for their ANS artefacts.

The film also features Fokker space engineer Jan de Koomen and astronomer Kees de Jager, who unfortunately both have passed away before they could see the film.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2022 01:35 pm by Paper Kosmonaut »
PK - dei t dut mout t waiten!

Offline leovinus

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Looking forward to it. The trailer is not available here in the USA though. It says "video does not exist".

As background, when I did my first internship in the mid 80s at Philips Research (NatLab), the team I worked with worked out of a smaller Philips lab in Geldrop. As a space enthusiast, I was fascinated by the model of the ANS satellite. Seemed like a big chunk of ANS was done at the NatLab/PCG Geldrop though I have no details on the project as it was decade before my time.

On these few pages, there is a photo on page 1 that looks like how I remember the model at the ceiling.

PS: Wouldn't this be better in the "Historical spaceflight" Section?

Offline Paper Kosmonaut

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Sorry for the inconvenience with watching the trailer. I have made the video accessible to this forum. I wasn't aware the settings were still limited. That now has been solved.

As far as ANS and NatLab Geldrop, you are right. And there is a lot of footage in the film about ANS' instruments made there. For this film, I have interviewed Piet van Otterloo, who later also was involved with building IRAS.
PK - dei t dut mout t waiten!

Offline leovinus

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Now the trailer runs fine, thanks. I had to smile about the 'very Dutch' comments in the style of "OMG, how did we ever do this?". Thanks for posting and putting this together and am looking forward to the full movie.

Offline Hobbes-22

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Looking forward to this  8)

Offline Oersted

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Thanks for your work on this!

Why "the first digital satellite in the world"?

Offline leovinus

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Thanks for your work on this!

Why "the first digital satellite in the world"?

Indeed, it would be great to learn more about the background of that statement. Hope to hear from the experts. Based on what I read, it seems to go back to two points
(1) the Philips Technical Review, VOLUME34,1974,No.1, article about the on-board computer system says
"At the beginning of the project none of the existing aerospace computers met this combination of requirements"
(2) The on-board computer was reprogrammable on-the-fly. Core storage, 4k, not tape. That capability was used to compensate for the wrong orbit insertion and to update observational targets.

Offline leovinus

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Thanks for your work on this!

Why "the first digital satellite in the world"?

Indeed, it would be great to learn more about the background of that statement. Hope to hear from the experts. Based on what I read, it seems to go back to two points
(1) the Philips Technical Review, VOLUME34,1974,No.1, article about the on-board computer system says
"At the beginning of the project none of the existing aerospace computers met this combination of requirements"
(2) The on-board computer was reprogrammable on-the-fly. Core storage, 4k, not tape. That capability was used to compensate for the wrong orbit insertion and to update observational targets.

As the Dutch Wiki has dead links at
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomische_Nederlandse_Satelliet
attached here are the individual Philips Tech. Rev. papers from 1973 and 1974 with ANS details for reference.

Extracted from:
https://nvhrbiblio.nl/biblio/tijdschrift/Philips%20Technical%20Review/Philips-Technical-Review-1973.pdf
https://nvhrbiblio.nl/biblio/tijdschrift/Philips%20Technical%20Review/Philips-Technical-Review-1974.pdf

W. Bloemendal & C. Kramer (1973) "The Netherlands astronomical satellite (ANS)" (PDF). Philips Tech. Rev. 33 (5): 117-129.
P. van Otterloo (1973) "Attitude control for the Netherlands astronomical satellite (ANS)" (PDF). Philips Tech. Rev. 33 (6): 162-176.
G. J. A. Arink (1974) "The onboard computer of the Netherlands astronomical satellite (ANS)" (PDF). Philips Tech. Rev. 34 (1): 1-18.
A. C. Brinkman, J. Heise & C. de Jager (1974) "Observation of cosmic X-ray sources with the Netherlands astronomical satellite (ANS)" (PDF). Philips Tech. Rev. 34 (2/3): 43-59.
J. Crucq (1974) "The reaction wheels of the Netherlands satellite ANS" (PDF). Philips Tech. Rev. 34 (4): 106-111.
A. J. Smets et al. (1974) "The optical sensors of the Netherlands astronomical satellite (ANS)". Philips Tech. Rev. 34 (8 ): 208-224.

Offline Paper Kosmonaut

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Indeed the ANS was the first satellite with a re-programmable digital coomputer on board that did the housekeeping as well as the data gathering of the scientific experiments and transmitting them to Earth. There wasn't a satellite in 1974 (when ANS was launched) that had the same capabilities. NASA still used tape for data storage. This is something the film also elaborates on a little more.
 
Philips was really proud of this computer. NASA predicted that, given the requirements the Dutch needed for this computer it would weigh 22 kilograms and would use about 100 watt. But there only was 8 kilo and 8 watt available, so NASA said it couldn't be done. But Philips built it anyway and the end product weighed 7.9 kilo and used 8 watt. And it worked perfectly.
The only glitches there were during ANS' lifetime were from ground-based equipment. And of course the faulty orbit caused by the Scout launcher.
PK - dei t dut mout t waiten!

Offline woods170

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Looking forward to it. The trailer is not available here in the USA though. It says "video does not exist".

As background, when I did my first internship in the mid 80s at Philips Research (NatLab), the team I worked with worked out of a smaller Philips lab in Geldrop. As a space enthusiast, I was fascinated by the model of the ANS satellite. Seemed like a big chunk of ANS was done at the NatLab/PCG Geldrop though I have no details on the project as it was decade before my time.

On these few pages, there is a photo on page 1 that looks like how I remember the model at the ceiling.

PS: Wouldn't this be better in the "Historical spaceflight" Section?

Emphasis mine.

Yeah...the document in that link contains an image that we shot back in 2006. "WE" being the Nationaal Ruimtevaart Museum (NRM), situated in the Aviodrome aerospace museum in Lelystad, the Netherlands. We've had the ANS backup flight model mounted from the ceiling of the Aviodrome since 2004. In 2006 NRM shot a few images to enhance the Wikipedia page on ANS. NRM released the original image to the public domain and it has been popping up here-and-there on the internet ever since.

That particular image and a few more below:
« Last Edit: 02/03/2022 03:07 pm by woods170 »

Offline leovinus

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Looking forward to it. The trailer is not available here in the USA though. It says "video does not exist".

As background, when I did my first internship in the mid 80s at Philips Research (NatLab), the team I worked with worked out of a smaller Philips lab in Geldrop. As a space enthusiast, I was fascinated by the model of the ANS satellite. Seemed like a big chunk of ANS was done at the NatLab/PCG Geldrop though I have no details on the project as it was decade before my time.

On these few pages, there is a photo on page 1 that looks like how I remember the model at the ceiling.

PS: Wouldn't this be better in the "Historical spaceflight" Section?

Emphasis mine.

Yeah...the document in that link contains an image that we shot back in 2006. "WE" being the Nationaal Ruimtevaart Museum (NRM), situated in the Aviodrome aerospace museum in Lelystad, the Netherlands. We've had the ANS backup flight model mounted from the ceiling of the Aviodrome since 2004. In 2006 NRM shot a few images to enhance the Wikipedia page on ANS. NRM released the original image to the public domain and it has been popping up here-and-there on the internet ever since.

That particular image and a few more below:

Thanks for sharing. One clarification question please. I read somewhere about a "spare" for ANS. Is that the same as what you call "backup flight model" at NRM in Lelystad? And therefore, what was on exhibit at PCG Geldrop in the 80s was also the spare ANS (and not some other model) ? Thanks.

Offline woods170

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Indeed the ANS was the first satellite with a re-programmable digital coomputer on board that did the housekeeping as well as the data gathering of the scientific experiments and transmitting them to Earth. There wasn't a satellite in 1974 (when ANS was launched) that had the same capabilities. NASA still used tape for data storage. This is something the film also elaborates on a little more.
 
Philips was really proud of this computer. NASA predicted that, given the requirements the Dutch needed for this computer it would weigh 22 kilograms and would use about 100 watt. But there only was 8 kilo and 8 watt available, so NASA said it couldn't be done. But Philips built it anyway and the end product weighed 7.9 kilo and used 8 watt. And it worked perfectly.
The only glitches there were during ANS' lifetime were from ground-based equipment. And of course the faulty orbit caused by the Scout launcher.


Yeah, the ANS OBC was a masterpiece of engineering. Naturally, from the outside it looked quite uninspiring. Just a rectangular black box.
The memory blocks were one of the very first (if not THE first) application of solid state memory on a spacecraft on-board computer.
« Last Edit: 02/03/2022 03:52 pm by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Looking forward to it. The trailer is not available here in the USA though. It says "video does not exist".

As background, when I did my first internship in the mid 80s at Philips Research (NatLab), the team I worked with worked out of a smaller Philips lab in Geldrop. As a space enthusiast, I was fascinated by the model of the ANS satellite. Seemed like a big chunk of ANS was done at the NatLab/PCG Geldrop though I have no details on the project as it was decade before my time.

On these few pages, there is a photo on page 1 that looks like how I remember the model at the ceiling.

PS: Wouldn't this be better in the "Historical spaceflight" Section?

Emphasis mine.

Yeah...the document in that link contains an image that we shot back in 2006. "WE" being the Nationaal Ruimtevaart Museum (NRM), situated in the Aviodrome aerospace museum in Lelystad, the Netherlands. We've had the ANS backup flight model mounted from the ceiling of the Aviodrome since 2004. In 2006 NRM shot a few images to enhance the Wikipedia page on ANS. NRM released the original image to the public domain and it has been popping up here-and-there on the internet ever since.

That particular image and a few more below:

Thanks for sharing. One clarification question please. I read somewhere about a "spare" for ANS. Is that the same as what you call "backup flight model" at NRM in Lelystad? And therefore, what was on exhibit at PCG Geldrop in the 80s was also the spare ANS (and not some other model) ? Thanks.

The backup flight model was indeed the "spare" for ANS. And yes, it was on exhibit at PCG Geldrop in the 80s. The NRM has the "spare" ANS on indefinite loan from Philips since the early 2000s. Philips at the time did not know what to do with it but was very keen to get it on public display. That's how it ended up at NRM exhibition in the Aviodrome where close to 3 million people (over the last 17 years) have now viewed it with their own eyes.

The "spare" ANS also was hung from the ceiling of the Evoluon in Eindhoven for a few years in the very early 80s. Check out the (rather poor) image below:
« Last Edit: 02/03/2022 04:08 pm by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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And given the fact that a lot of members of this forum come here for technical information... some specs of ANS

check the images below.

Edit: @Paper Kosmonaut: sorry for hijacking your thread.
« Last Edit: 02/03/2022 03:55 pm by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Thanks for your work on this!

Why "the first digital satellite in the world"?

Indeed, it would be great to learn more about the background of that statement. Hope to hear from the experts. Based on what I read, it seems to go back to two points
(1) the Philips Technical Review, VOLUME34,1974,No.1, article about the on-board computer system says
"At the beginning of the project none of the existing aerospace computers met this combination of requirements"
(2) The on-board computer was reprogrammable on-the-fly. Core storage, 4k, not tape. That capability was used to compensate for the wrong orbit insertion and to update observational targets.

Emphasis mine.

The ANS OBC was carefully programmed with an initial observation programs to be run after launch. However, the Scout launch vehicle screwed up targeting during first stage boost phase. Second, third and fourth stages of Scout were all 'dumb' and just carried out their original programmed flights. The primary result was ANS ending up in a wrong orbit. The secondary result was that the original observation programs in the OBC became useless. Instead of a nice circular sun-synchronous orbit, ANS ended up in a highly elliptical syn-synchronous orbit. Parts of the orbit came dangerously close to the Van Allen belt.
However, due to having a re-programmable OBC the ANS mission was saved. The entire core logic behind the observation program was rewritten in just a few days, allowing the satellite to largely shut down upon dipping into the Van Allen belts, as well as the SAA. By executing the majority of the observation while in the ascending and descending parts of the orbit, it was possible to execute almost 90% of the previously planned observation program.

Philips' brilliant OBC saved the mission that otherwise would have to be reflown using the spare ANS flight model.

Offline leovinus

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Thanks for your work on this!

Why "the first digital satellite in the world"?

Indeed, it would be great to learn more about the background of that statement. Hope to hear from the experts. Based on what I read, it seems to go back to two points
(1) the Philips Technical Review, VOLUME34,1974,No.1, article about the on-board computer system says
"At the beginning of the project none of the existing aerospace computers met this combination of requirements"
(2) The on-board computer was reprogrammable on-the-fly. Core storage, 4k, not tape. That capability was used to compensate for the wrong orbit insertion and to update observational targets.

Emphasis mine.

The ANS OBC was carefully programmed with an initial observation programs to be run after launch. However, the Scout launch vehicle screwed up targeting during first stage boost phase. Second, third and fourth stages of Scout were all 'dumb' and just carried out their original programmed flights. The primary result was ANS ending up in a wrong orbit. The secondary result was that the original observation programs in the OBC became useless. Instead of a nice circular sun-synchronous orbit, ANS ended up in a highly elliptical syn-synchronous orbit. Parts of the orbit came dangerously close to the Van Allen belt.
However, due to having a re-programmable OBC the ANS mission was saved. The entire core logic behind the observation program was rewritten in just a few days, allowing the satellite to largely shut down upon dipping into the Van Allen belts, as well as the SAA. By executing the majority of the observation while in the ascending and descending parts of the orbit, it was possible to execute almost 90% of the previously planned observation program.

Philips' brilliant OBC saved the mission that otherwise would have to be reflown using the spare ANS flight model.

Is there are written account or article of those "Oh, sh*t" days (highlighted in your post) ? Who was involved with the rewrite? I think I saw TU Delft mentioned but no names. How much code was changed? How was the update tested?
« Last Edit: 02/03/2022 04:37 pm by leovinus »

Offline leovinus

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[snip]

Some background information about the film:
The film is made in cooperation with the National Spaceflight Museum (NRM) in the Netherlands, where it will be shown at the exhibition floor, where a new display showcase has been created to display all the leftover artefacts of ANS (one of the test vehicles, instruments etc.).

[snip]


PS: Will it be possible to see the full movie online (for those of us who can't easily visit the museum) ?

Offline Paper Kosmonaut

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Thanks for the extra and detailed enlightenment, Woods170! It's good to let people know what 'we' created back in the 1970s. (-:

As an addition to what Woods wrote: The NRM now not only has the backup fight article, they also have the structural test article. Another one is located in the Uniberity Museum of Groningen, where they keep the thermal test article.

@Leovinus: I cannot promise you anything, but it might be possible in the nearby future you will be able to see the film online on a pay-per-view channel of the film's producer, Stichting Beeldlijn. (They will ask just a very small charge.) IIRC, they are working on that right now. If that has been realised, I will surely mention it here. I'll also make sure there will be an English version available, because I think (hope..) there also will be some interest in the film across the border.
PK - dei t dut mout t waiten!

Offline woods170

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Thanks for the extra and detailed enlightenment, Woods170! It's good to let people know what 'we' created back in the 1970s. (-:

As an addition to what Woods wrote: The NRM now not only has the backup fight article, they also have the structural test article. Another one is located in the Uniberity Museum of Groningen, where they keep the thermal test article.

@Leovinus: I cannot promise you anything, but it might be possible in the nearby future you will be able to see the film online on a pay-per-view channel of the film's producer, Stichting Beeldlijn. (They will ask just a very small charge.) IIRC, they are working on that right now. If that has been realised, I will surely mention it here. I'll also make sure there will be an English version available, because I think (hope..) there also will be some interest in the film across the border.

Emphasis mine.

I'm pretty sure that is not the thermal test article, but the Electrical Model. Besides the Flight Model the Electrical Model was the only ANS model which was fully equipped with every piece of avionics, electronics and test versions of the science instruments; exactly like what is present in Groningen.

The proof for my statement will be in the YoYo box mounted to the ANS model in Groningen. From archive images from the early 70s there is a very distinct difference between the YoYo box of the Thermal Model and the Electrical Model. I would have to see it with my own eyes, or get some good images of the "Groningen" version, to determine which model is actually present in the museum in Groningen. But my money is on it being the Electrical Model.

Offline Oersted

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Thanks for your replies regarding the Philips computer. I myself was the proud owner of a Philips Videopac gaming console in the 1980s. Good stuff :-)

BTW, I like your retro style for the ANS movie. Well done!

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