March 6, 2024
Europe/Amsterdam timezone

ESA, Deimos, Orbex and Aalborg University are pleased to invite you to the 1st workshop on Building Launcher Autonomy and Safety through New Technologies (BLAST), to be held on:


Wednesday, 6th March 2024

at ESA-ESTEC (no video link is foreseen)


This workshop will give you the opportunity to understand and influence ESA's roadmap for the development of key onboard GNC technologies for launchers.

The participation of key players from both industry and academia is expected.


Registration is now closed


Conditions for participation

  • Access to the workshop is restricted to nationals of ESA Member States working for organisations based in ESA Member States
  • Participation is free of charge, but registration is mandatory
  • Please provide one registration per participating person (not per organisation)


Structure and agenda

The BLAST workshop will be structured in an interactive and dynamic fashion.

It will start with a brief presentation of a variety of GNC technologies, followed by detailed splinter/parallel workgroup discussions on each technology. Each workgroup will have a moderator, who will share their findings with the whole audience at the end of the day.

For additional information, please see the agenda tab.



Modern expendable and reusable launch systems are faced with an increasing number of engineering challenges, such as:

  • High modelling uncertainty associated with the lack of flight test opportunities
  • High sensitivity to day-of-flight wind and weather conditions
  • Adaptive (i.e. payload-independent) flight programs for increased responsiveness
  • Fault-tolerant capabilities for safe mission execution in degraded off-nominal cases
  • Stringent load relief requirements due to lighter and more flexible structural designs
  • Stringent and changeable stage fall-down and no-fly zones safety constraints
  • Engine lifetime preservation requirements via safe operations
  • Subsystem degradation minimisation requirements via health monitoring


Currently, launcher manufacturers and operators rely on extensive offline/on-ground mission preparation and V&V stages to handle most of these challenges, leading to extremely time and cost consuming processes. Each launch is nowadays tailored to a narrow pre-defined set of conditions (e.g. wind level). If the vehicle deviates too much from its design envelope, the safety and performance of the mission may not be ensured. This remains valid despite several developments in the guidance and control design methods that are adopted on-ground.


However, a paradigm shift can be envisaged by embedding autonomous functionalities onboard to address the aforementioned challenges in a more efficient and safe manner. The current level of pre-computed robustness can be replaced by enhanced monitoring, control, optimisation and decision-making capabilities that allow to take into account the actual conditions of the vehicle and its subsystems during the mission execution. These enhanced capabilities have been enabled by recent advances in their underlying mathematical theory and by the increase of computational power available onboard.


The launcher GNC capabilities covered in the BLAST workshop can be found in the
list of technologies tab.


The event is organised under the scope of ESA Contract No. 4000142645/23/NL/CRS.

Escape Dance Room