Sep 20 – 24, 2021
Europe/Amsterdam timezone

GNC and Autonomy Perspectives on Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Active Debris Removal

Sep 22, 2021, 4:20 PM
Debris removal and servicing Debris removal and servicing


Dr Pedro Lourenço (GMV, Space Segment and Robotics Business Unit, GNC/Robotics Division)


Operating spacecraft equipped with robotic manipulators for Servicing and Assembly and Active Debris Removal missions poses significant challenges to autonomy and GNC-driven design.
GMV has actively participated in ESA’s steps towards development of technological responses to their most critical aspects.
The state-of-the art and lessons learnt from GMV's recent experience in the topic are summarized and framed as stepstones to future missions.
The outcomes and conclusions of the dedicated activities in ESA’s AITAG, COMRADE, RACE, DETUMBLING , COBRA, D4R are critically and analytically summarized and complemented with conclusions of commercial operation of GMV’s PLATFORM-ART robotic testbench, spun-in technologies from adjacent topics like MPC-based Bearings-Only Navigation for Rendez Vous (GUIBEAR) and the Formation Flying of Proba 3, and GMV’s contributions to e.Deorbit which was ESA’s flagship activity to deorbit Envisat in the last decade.
RACE focused on CubeSats for in-orbit demonstration, AITAG on the challenge of running on-board Artificial Intelligence Techniques for vision-based proximity operations, COMRADE investigated and matured the complex couplings between the different control systems for autonomous capture, derived required algorithms and performed HW-in-the-loop end-to-end demonstration . MSRN investigated usage of the non-visible spectrum to tackle challenges like eclipses and early detection. DETUMBLING addressed de-tumbling strategies, particularly robust control for robotic arm capture but also contactless detumbling, which was the main subject of COBRA. D4R investigates technologies to facilitate the removal in targets to be launched.
Topics covered: Collision-free guidance, Contacteless detumbling, Advanced Control Techniques, Visual servo and Compliant/Coupled Control, model based design and development process - and the role of Software qualification in hardware-in-the-loop Robotic Facilities.

Primary authors

Joao Branco (GMV) Marco Mammarella (GMV) Pablo Colmenarejo (GMV) Dr Pedro Lourenço (GMV, Space Segment and Robotics Business Unit, GNC/Robotics Division) Pedro Serra (GMV) Thomas Peters (GMV)

Presentation materials