ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
Guidance navigation and control solution for a reentry vehicle hosting experiments with the highest micro-gravity level
The European contribution to the International Space Station (ISS) is going to be terminated in the upcoming years. Europe will soon demand a micro-g E2E-Service to send biological and life science experiments to space, to control them remotely under specific environmental conditions and to retrieve them on Earth. For such kind of experiments, extremely low micro-g accelerations (< 10-5 g), in orbit, are required. On the ISS, inasmuch as manned platform, those micro-g level cannot be achieved. Currently no relevant orbital micro-gravity platforms exist. This paper presents the results of a study, carried out at Airbus Defence & Space, aiming at investigating the feasibility of a micro-gravity platform with re-entry potential. Namely, the space segment is composed by a service module, providing attitude and control capability and a re-entry vehicle (REV), hosting the payload. Mission duration ranges from 2 to 4 weeks with satellite being placed on a Low-Earth-Orbit at 400 Km altitude, with 80 degrees inclination. During nominal operations, the AOCS guarantees µ-g accelerations less than 10-5 g and the experiments, inside the REV, are controlled from Ground. At end of mission, the satellite de-orbiting maneuver and the separation between service module and the capsule take place. Hence, the REV is injected into a ballistic trajectory to finally land on the Atlantic Ocean, North of the Azores. The paper gives an overview of the entire mission but mainly focuses on the AOCS solutions for the nominal operations and the GNC technique to ensure a precise re-entry.