An exceptional laboratory for validation of GNC space systems

In October 2013 GMV inaugurated platform-art©, a robotic testbed for pre-launch ground testing of space operations and systems. Since its inauguration this testbed has enhanced GMV’s capacity of developing and validating complete guidance, navigation and control (GNC) systems of space vehicles. GMV has also offered the testbed to other sector companies inside and outside Spain as a flexible validation facility for a wide range of space missions: space debris capture missions, formation flying missions, missions for exploring the surface of other planets and moon descent missions, among others. 

GMV Laboratory

The testbed was also recently used to validate a complete guidance, navigation and control (GNC) system for descent and landing (D&L) operations on small bodies. The objective of this activity (NEOGNC-2-CCN2) is to extend the test campaign of the NEOGNC2 project to incorporate HW representative of a true navigation camera (i.e. NPAL breadboard navigation camera). This improves testing realism/fidelity and gives further insights into the use of optical navigation in future ESA missions.

The selected scenario for this validation is the European Space Agency’s Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM). Targeted at the Dydimos asteroid, the mission’s aim is to explore and demonstrate technologies for future asteroid missions. For this purpose ESA furnished a low resolution Didymos model, to which GMV then added details and colors to make it more realistic. The NEOGNC2 system has been successfully tested with the NPAL navigation camera in both the Optical Laboratory and the robotic testbed (platform-art©) on GMV’s site. This validation activity has enabled verification of the functions and performance of the GNC system (implemented in flight representative processors) with an electric model of a flight navigation camera, thus enhancing its maturity level.