ICE Cube On-board Control Unit

The complete, ready-to-use module for in-orbit experiments on board the International Space Station

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Main Features

Technical highlights

OBC based on Microchip SAMV71Q21RT

  • Total Ionizing Dose 30 krad
  • NAND Flash 2 GiB for scientific data
  • NOR Flash (QSPI) 2 MiB for application SW
  • SDRAM 2x64 MiB operating memory
  • Power consumption <~1 W
  • Independent power control and data lanes


  • Command and control over Ethernet
  • Embedded CAN transceivers
  • OBCU-payload interfaces
    • UART
    • GPIO
    • I2C
    • SPI
    • ADC
  • Power control and measurement
    • OVP
    • UVP
    • OCP


  • C++: Developed using modern C++20 standard and tooling
  • ECSS: Production followed guidelines set out in ECSS standards for software development and quality
  • PUS: Integrates a command and control link protocol based on ESA’s Packet Utilization Standard ver. C (PUS-C)
  • Routing: Routes commands and data between the mission control systems and individual payloads
  • Scheduling: Facilitates unattended execution of operations through pre-scheduled commanding
  • Storage: Collects any and all telemetry from payloads into a large persistent memory chip
  • Extendibility: Provides a template for user-supplied periodically executed code
  • Flexibility: The system can be easily adjusted for use with other microcontrollers and operating systems

Available soon

  • Co-processor for independent data processing
  • Inter-payload routing
  • Software ECC protecting data in long-term storage

The ICE Cube OBCU project


The International Commercial Experiment Cubes Service , operated by a Belgian company Space Applications Services, presents a host of new opportunities for research and development. The platform contains a number of slots for electronic payloads of standard sizes, which are provided with power and connections upstream to the user home base on the ground. This well-defined interface enables teams to rapidly develop and perform experiments in a unique space environment. This opportunity has already been taken advantage of through a number of missions and programs, including, but not limited to, Kirara, Gator GATSBY, Axiom-1 RAKIA and ESA’s own CryptIC, AIM and Orbit your Thesis.

Trying to answer what exactly goes into the process of deploying an experiment cube on the ICE Cubes Facility, or ICF, points towards a standard CubeSat-like development procedure. An experiment cube will be hidden inside a metal chassis, in which a microcontroller-based circuit board will conduct other subsystems responsible for performing a specific set of actions and measurements, e.g. comprising a scientific experiment, and communicate with the platform, and through it, the user home base. Design of the enclosure and the electronics subsystems largely follows the requirements set out by the platform’s operator, with analysis and implementation of which they offer additional consulting services. The software is developed, the enclosure manufactured, the system assembled and prepared for a round of integration testing in a second copy of the ICF operated on ground. While the ICF follows a set of standards defining the interface to an experiment cube, so far there has been no off-the-shelf components that would serve as a common reusable foundation to build experiment-specific payloads on.

The commercial package, ICE Cube On-board Control Unit (OBCU), developed by N7 Space in collaboration with the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CBK PAN) comprises of an electronic control board based on a SAMV71Q21 microcontroller, a 1U mechanical enclosure fitting up to four similarly sized payloads along with the control board, and a set of software used to command, control, monitor, communicate with and collect data from the payloads. Utilizing common standards, it serves as a bridge between customer-defined facilities and the open interfacing standards, such as the Packet Utilization Standard (PUS), stewarded by the European Space Agency.
It was developed in scope of an ESA GSTP activity and as such, it will be tested directly during a deployment of a complete OBCU-based cube with in-orbit payload demonstrations on the ISS.

N7 Space is also working on a ground mission control system to be used in conjunction with the OBCU, to further streamline the process of operating the cubes based on it.

First flight-ready ICE Cube On-board Control Unit underwent sucessful integration with the mechanical box and testing during its validation campaign held in the second quarter of 2023.

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About us

N7 Space is a Warsaw based software house dedicated for space industry. We specialize in on-board software for satellite systems. Our software is customizable and can be used on various small and medium scale satellites, including hi-tech scientific missions. We are also a member of CAN in Automation (CiA) association.

Our products & services

We offer custom software for a vast range of on-board systems based on SPARC or ARM architectures running bare-metal or RTOS based applications, which are often used in small satellite missions. Do you use one of these microcontrollers? Contact us for a reliable software, verified according to ESA ECSS standards!

We can take responsibility for the whole software development process based on rigorous ESA ECSS standards. With our help, you will save time, resources and make sure that everything runs smoothly. We can also provide your team with a formal MBSE toolchain for your platform with various models that can be tailored for your mission needs. As a result, the process will run faster and more consistently.


Experience in on-board software development gained during PROBA3 ASPIICS project:

  • responsibility for bootloader and application software
  • knowledge of Leon based on-board systems and software development environments.

Execution of software projects for European Space Agency:

  • multiple ESA projects with high TRL and criticality B or C,
  • ESA Spice for Space (S4S) assessment closed successfully,
  • 2 software contributions to Comet Interceptor mission,
  • experience in usage of MBSE toolchains for various embedded systems.

Contact Us

If you are interested in using the ICE Cube On-board Control Unit in your research project, please contact us for more detailed information about the platform and to get a custom pricing. We can provide support in software and hardware adaptations of ICE Cube OBCU for particular project needs.

Our Partners

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