Benchmark Space Systems Cuts Simulation Time Over 85% with Rescale & AWS

Executive Summary

Benchmark Space Systems develops unique propulsion technology to economically move satellites into more advantageous orbits after being launched into space by larger rockets. The rapidly growing market for its products, known as on-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (OSAM), is already estimated in the billions. Maintaining a complex ecosystem of satellite infrastructure requires extensive R&D and compute-intensive simulation. 

The engineering team uses high performance computing (HPC) resources to run computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations before they go to production. To avoid bottlenecks due to limited compute capacity that might lead to delayed launch dates, the company transitioned from running HPC on-premises to AWS. By using Rescale’s HPC automation platform to manage AWS services, Benchmark engineers reduced simulation times from eight hours to one hour, freeing them up to find new ways to grow their offerings and the business. “With revenue growth over 400 percent last year, and five milestone missions set to launch in 2021, Benchmark Space Systems, a propulsion solution innovator, for the past two years has exceeded their fundraising and growth expectations,” said Chris Carella, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for Benchmark Space Systems.

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Delivering In-Space Mobility Requires Astronomical Compute Power

Started in 2017, Benchmark Space Systems is regarded as the go-to for in-space mobility solutions, serving satellite and spacecraft operators in the Space 2.0 segment. It strives to deliver the most cost-effective propulsion solution for small satellite mission needs, from simple orbit adjustments to high-agility maneuvers. The company’s in-space mobility products combine hardware, software, and services to address common operational needs, including last-mile orbit insertion from the rocket. Since its inception, Benchmark has grown 100 percent each year thanks to its ability to get new solutions into orbit in a rapidly developing and competitive market. Benchmark engineers use computation fluid dynamics (CFD) to model many of its thermal and structural designs. It takes hundreds of thousands to millions of core hours per year to run CFD workloads within a reasonable time frame. In some cases, engineers may oversimplify the models so they can use computer power and speed up time to results, which can lead to errors or inaccuracies. Because of the mission critical nature of Benchmark’s designs, engineers needed to maintain the full integrity of their tests, but they also needed to deliver on extremely tight timelines. “We anticipated that computing capacity could easily become a bottleneck that prevented us from delivering best-in-class lead times, especially when we’re asked to build first-time configurations for multiple customer programs in parallel,” explained Chris Carella. The company went looking for on-demand access to high performance computing (HPC) resources to run CFD. Additionally, they wanted an automated solution that would manage and optimize the underlying HPC resources for the startup-size team.