Thales Alenia Space has been awarded a preparation project for in-orbit demonstration dedicated to In-Orbit Servicing of space vehicles by the European Commission
An in-orbit demonstration is expected by 2026 of this new project, called EROSS+, for European Robotic Orbital Support Services, will be led by Thales Alenia Space. This is part of the Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) on Space Robotics Technologies set up by the European Union within Horizon 2020, a Thales Alenia release said today.
The EROSS+ space vehicles will be able to carry out a wide range of operations in orbit, including controlled re-entry of space debris, robotic manipulation, the extension of a satellite's operational life, in-orbit re-fuelling, inspection, and many more.
The project will start in February and will last 24 months. The goal consists in designing a demonstrator while progressing in parallel on the maturity of the key building blocks.
The demonstration mission concept includes the complete orbital rendezvous phase of a Servicer satellite with a collaborative Client satellite prepared for On-Orbit Servicing that shall be followed by the capture and then servicing operations.
On-Orbit servicing space vehicles represent a real paradigm shift in space: upcoming systems will no longer be “abandoned to their fate” once in orbit, but can evolve over their lifetime. On-Orbit Servicing, signals the advent of a new approach to space access.
When humanity considers the possibility of building lunar bases sometime in the future, On-Orbit Servicing technologies will underpin the solutions developed to transport and assemble the constituent elements.
Thales Alenia Space was leading I3DS (Integrated 3D sensors), a sensor suite for robotic missions. The second step, currently in its final phase, was to integrate the previously developed building blocks into more specific applications, through three projects oriented towards modular and reconfigurable spacecraft (MOSAR), in-orbit assembly (PULSAR) and on-orbit servicing (EROSS), the last being led by Thales Alenia Space as well.
Those projects are now resulting to ground demonstrators, a first step to demonstrate the feasibility of the targeted applications especially EROSS which will validate all the technologies needed for On-Orbit Servicing.
The third phase of the SRC is now to prepare the in-orbit demonstration of such new types of missions (up to preliminary design). EROSS+ obviously follows up on the EROSS activity and aims to develop a European solution for On-Orbit Servicing.