European Proximity Operations Simulator (EPOS 2.0)

The European Proximity Operations Simulator (EPOS 2.0) is a large-scale facility at the DLR Space Operations and Astronaut Training in Oberpfaffenhofen. It offers a development and testing environment for the simulation of space-based inspection and approach manoeuvres, referred to as rendezvous.

This large facility at the Space Flight Technology department of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) provides missions with orbital maintenance and towing services, which require extremely complex rendezvous and docking manoeuvres.

One major difficulty is approaching autonomous, non-cooperative, passive client satellites that are not equipped with special rendezvous or docking devices. This requires specific new navigation and docking procedures, along with sensors and propulsion systems that must be developed then extensively tested and verified. Approaching, then docking or grasping onto tumbling target satellites presents another challenge.

The EPOS 2.0 is a facility at German Space Operations Center for the design, development, testing and verification of rendezvous sensors and systems. The test facility consists of two industry robots, both with six degrees of freedom, one of which is mounted on a 25-metre-long rail. This is used to test the approach of two satellites in real time, with one robot simulating the service satellite, and the other the movement of the client satellite.

One special feature of the EPOS unit is its highly accurate positioning, which is in the sub-millimetre range over 25 metres, and has a high command rate of 250 Hertz. A high-performance solar simulator can be used to achieve realistic ambient lighting – an important requirement when testing optical sensors.

In addition, extensive research is underway to develop new technologies and concepts for rendezvous systems aimed at the robotic deorbiting of space debris.


Volker Speelmann

Head of Research Infrastructures
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Executive Board department for Innovation, Transfer and Research Infrastructure
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne

Florian Rems

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Space Operations and Astronaut Training
Space Flight Technology
Münchener Straße 20, 82234 Weßling