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EROSS space robotics aims for the stars
The EU-funded EROSS project was awarded the 2021 Étoiles de l'Europe award for its unique satellite maintenance technology. This award is given to encourage the EU-funded collaborative scientific research efforts.
FREMONT, CA: The French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in 2013 had commenced the tradition of awarding successful European research projects coordinated by the French institutes. Nine years later, the EU-funded EROSS project was declared one of the winners of this prestigious award in the innovation category. On 2nd December 2021, project study manager Dr Vincent Dubanchet of French satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, received the award in a ceremony held at the Quai Branly Museum.
The EROSS project, organised by Thales Alenia Space, showcased major technology options for on-orbit satellite servicing operations. Missions such as satellite inspection, robotic manipulation, satellite service life extension, in-orbit refuelling, and space trash deorbiting necessitate highly adaptable space vehicles. EROSS developed the major building blocks of these vehicles and also enhanced their functionality and performance.
As reported on the Thales Group website, the EROSS project is a part of the EU’s Strategic Research Cluster action plan for space robotics in the second phase. I3DS, a previously EU-funded project conducted by Thales Alenia Space that focused on the development of cutting-edge sensors for space exploration missions, was the first SRC phase. These two initiatives have already resulted in ground demonstrations, a first step aimed to demonstrate the viability of the intended applications.
The EROSS plus project led by Thales Alenia Space is the third and final phase of the SRC. During this phase, the project team creates an on-orbit servicing and assembly demonstration mission for future commercial European robotic missions.
These new space vehicles are likely to signal a paradigm shift, by enabling advanced robotic operations in space, with a transition from a static to a dynamic environment in which space systems can grow. Thales Alenia Space is a pioneer in the field of on-orbit servicing that enables a new way to enter space. These technologies are useful for a variety of missions that includes transportation, orbital rendezvous and the assembly of various components in space, as humanity plans to create a permanent base on the Moon.