Guidance, Navigation and Control Systems (GNC)

GNC systems and related technologies and engineering have always been part of our company's core competencies. Currently, GMV's GNC Division is one of the biggest and best in the whole European space industry. The know-how and expertise have been built up over many years of continuous learning and application to a significant number of GNC related technological activities for ESA and to a growing number of ESA missions, such as PROBA-3, IXV, Mars Sample Return, Lunar Lander and others.

Designing a GNC system requires a very complete and iterative process, that usually comprises a set of different disciplines and requires the involvement of a team made up of people with different background knowledge and education, including: mission design and planning, S/C systems knowledge, trajectory design, control design, sensor technology, navigation strategy and navigation filters design, on-board SW coding, SW verification and system verification (including HW in the loop). This challenge has always been and still is exciting while pushing us towards innovation and self-improvement, which have made GMV a key player in the GNC field in Europe.

Current applications and capabilities of GMV in the GNC field include:

  • Formation flying scenarios: interferometric and demonstrations missions such as PROBA3, DARWIN and PRISMA.
  • Rendez-vous and capture/docking scenario: servicing missions to ISS or flying commercial spacecraft, sample return missions, demonstration missions, such as the Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Autonomous Re-entry Vehicle (ARV), Mars Sample Return (MSR), NEXT-Mars and CSTS.
  • Launcher scenarios: launcher studies and analysis for all mission types and development of trajectory optimization tools, GNC for reusable launch vehicles, launch abort trajectories, flight program SW for VEGA, ATV-Evo program, VEGA.
  • Re-entry scenarios: manned and unmanned vehicles, vehicle model identification, IXV and high lift over drag vehicles.
  • Exploration scenarios: NEO’s missions (orbiter, impactor, autonomous navigation), planetary exploration: Moon, Mars, Mercury, Titan and others, such as Exomars, Bepi-Colombo, Huygens, Mars Sample Return, NEXT-Mars and NEXT-Moon.
  • Image Processing (IP) techniques for navigation purposes: NEOs GNC based on far-range IP, vision based absolute navigation IP for the Moon.
  • GNC Design, Development, Verification and Validation (DDVV) Approach technologies and tools: Model In the Loop (MIL), SW In the Loop (SIL), Processor In the Loop (PIL), HW In the Loop (HIL). Our classical DDVV approach is based on: Full SW/HW re-use from lower DDVV setup to higher level, Fast and easy design iteration, V-cycle at algorithmic level (Matlab/Simulink), C code production (autocoding and hand-made code) & verification, V-cycle at SW level (C code in target computer), V-cycle at HW level (HW sensors dynamically stimulated).

Our main tools and test bench facilities include (all of them commercially available upon conditions to be agreed):

  • gncde: GNC Development Environment SW tool, providing an integrated framework for GNC design, iteration and validation up to Model and SW in the Loop (MIL/SIL).
  • platform: dynamic test bench including real-time avionics system and real dynamic (through high precision controlled robotic arms and rails) stimulation to sensors for FF and RdV scenarios.
  • moonhound: surface rover laboratory platform to test GNC systems for rovers.
  • optlab: optical laboratory for stimulating optical cameras and test in closed loop with full GNC systems in Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) test bench.
  • cleon: tool for terminal GNC design for NEO impactor missions.