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I read about the ESA OPS-SAT satellite, which should evaluate new hard- and software in orbit. More information here.

Information on the card used.

Are there already such satellites or systems similar to this project, or is this some totally new research?

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Do you mean generally? There are quite a lot of (european) test missions (e.g. from ESA the Proba Missions: Proba-1, Proba-2, Proba-V and Proba-3 which is currently in preparation, from DLR e.g. the TET-1 mission). There are probably more which I am not aware of, but most of the ones I listed I had a bit to do with.

All of them are for testing new technology (hard- and software, insturments, or e.g. Proba-3 for testing precise formation flying in a high elliptical orbit etc).

But as far as I understand, OPS-SAT is special in regard of it's architecture as it is an "upgrade" in comparison to more traditional test missions listed above, as it tests more new technology of the platform and communication itself and not so much new payload.

I also don't know much about non-european missions in that direction (NASA, India, China etc.).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. Yes, I am looking for satellites which have already such powerful boards, Linux based OS and so on... We have great hardware on earth, can this hardware made space qualified? This is what I am looking for :) +1, because I did not know anything about the Proba missions, thanks :) $\endgroup$
    – ben
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 19:25
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Satellites that break in certain ways can still be used to test things you think might be too risky to do with a fully operational one. In one satellite system I worked on, one of our vehicles lost the amplifier in its payload downlink, so it could no longer send us any of the mission data it collected. Everything else onboard still worked, so we could send it commands, execute maneuvers, load new software, and get telemetry back. Rather than dispose of it, we kept it around to be the guinea pig -- any time someone wanted to try something new, we did it first with the partly-broken one, so we could see what would happen without risking one of the fully-capable spacecraft. Then one day someone discovered how to get a small amount of mission data down in part of the telemetry stream, and we started using that to relieve some of the overtasking pressure on the other vehicles.

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