On-Orbit Servicing

The SR Institute develops models and technologies for the robotic maintenance, repair and disposal of satellites. Activities include the verification and improvement of satellite docking systems and the design of "Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC)" strategies for service satellites. The availability of highly accurate and flexible multi-body and contact dynamics models plays a key role here.

Further, the detected paths were fused with highly accurate GPS data. While the AI-based path detection module provides local information about the immediate surroundings, GPS data gives the vehicles global position in the world. During the tests, GPS data was used to transform the detected paths from the local vehicle coordinate system into the global world coordinate system. This combination of AI-based path detection and highly accurate GPS data will form the basis for the AFM's real-time capable AI- and optimization based path planning and path following control algorithms.

As part of ESA's Clean Space Initiative, technology developments are being driven forward to remove space debris from the orbit of satellites (Active Debris Removal, ADR). These technologies also include GNC solutions that allow integrated control and regulation of servicing satellites and a robotic arm mounted on them in order to approach, grab and remove inactive satellites from orbit.

In an ESA project for the Envisat ADR scenario (eDeorbit), the SR Institute has developed a corresponding simulation tool, implemented the necessary GNC algorithms in it and successfully demonstrated fly-around, rendezvous, access, stabilization and de-orbiting of an uncooperative, tumbling target.