Ruag teams for debris removal spacecraft

Ruag teams for debris removal spacecraft
Business news |
Astroscale UK is working with Ruag Space to develop the central controller for the ELSA-M space debris removing spacecraft.
By Nick Flaherty


Astroscale UK has been working with Ruag Space to develop the central controller for the ELSA-M space debris removing spacecraft. will remove multiple satellites in a constellation, such as those launched by the global satellite communications network OneWeb. Astroscale and OneWeb signed a £2.4m contract last month for the service.

“The ELSA-M servicer will be optimised to remove multiple retired satellites from low Earth orbit in a single mission,” said John Auburn, Managing Director of Astroscale UK and Group Chief Commercial Officer.

ELSA-M will use an off the shelf Constellation On Board Computer (cOBC) from Ruag in Switzerland with a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver and interface unit. Once in orbit the computer controls the ELSA-M spacecraft, enabling repeated multi-debris removal manoeuvers and management of equipment, reaction wheels and magnetometers.

The cOBC is based around two e500 Power Architecture cores running at 800 MHz with 32 KB of L1 instruction cache with parity and 512 KB L2 cache with ECC error correction. There is 1 GByte of DDR3 processing memory with ECC and 4 GBytes of non-volatile storage with ECC.

The controller uses a fully cross-strapped dual redundant architecture with redundant reconfiguration functions allowing fully user defined reconfiguration sequences. The integrated GNSS receiver, with support for GPS and Galileo, has an accuracy of 3.5m rms 3D and the controller includes AES256 encryption/decryption and authentication on both TM and TC links.

“We have developed this new computer specifically for the growing ‘New Space’ market,” says Anders Linder, Senior Vice President Electronics at RUAG Space, a leading supplier to the space industry. “Astroscale’s trust in us shows that we have a highly competitive product that meets the demands of this emerging debris removal market. Our cost-effective computer with its high-quality performance is attractive for many other applications in the New Space area.”

The controller supports the rendezvous between Astroscale’s servicer spacecraft and the client spacecraft, a retired or defunct satellite. “The rendezvous operations are critical, requiring precision robotics technology and on-board systems to maneuver our Servicer and successfully capture our Client spacecraft,” said Auburn.

“The cOBC system from Ruag Space offers a highly competent solution, allowing the Astroscale team to concentrate many different functions in one place, which greatly simplifies our systems architecture. We also benefit from Ruag Space’s knowledge of the New Space and constellation market,” he added.

Headquartered in Japan, Astroscale also has international subsidiaries in the United States and Israel.

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