GMV collaborates with Effective Space in the development and validation of small spacecraft
GMV has initiated a collaboration agreement with Effective Space Solution Limited, a UK-based private company that plans to deploy and operate a fleet of small SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft for logistic space missions.
In the first phase of this collaboration, each spacecraft will offer life-extension in-orbit services for near-end-of-life communication satellites in GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit). The two first SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft, due for launch by 2020, have been designed and developed under a customer contract.
GMV is in charge of supporting the development of the service mission with several activities related to the execution of hardware- in-the-loop test campaigns in GMV's platform-art© facility.
These activities include verification of the Rendezvous and Docking (RvD) system, testing of the sensor engineering models, checking of the onboard computers that run the GNC (guidance, navigation, and control) software, and the docking arms system.
Under this collaboration agreement GMV's platform-art© facility is using industrial robots coupled with real time numerical simulation in order to reproduce the relative dynamics of the host satellite and the SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft, while it approaches the host satellite and docks with it. It therefore allows hardware-in-the-loop tests by stimulating the sensors as if they were in space.
The first test campaign was performed in late 2017 with the participation of the Effective Space engineering team. This first phase has focused on testing of the docking arms system prototype through state-of-the-art emulation of zero-gravity dynamic conditions.
Within the collaboration agreement between Effective Space and GMV another three platform-art© test campaigns have been scheduled, to be performed throughout this year and the following year. At the moment GMV is busy developing one of the critical components of the SPACE DRONE™ RvD system, i.e., the image processing algorithm that will be used for detecting the customer's GEO host satellite and computing its position and attitude during the rendezvous maneuver.