19.123.06 - PROTOTYPING OF SPACECRAFT RE-FUELING

Publication Date: 04-MAR-19

Program ref.: Technology Developme
Tender Type: C
Tender Status: INTENDED
Price Range: 200-500 KEURO
Budget Ref.: E/0901-01 - Technology Developme
Proc. Prop.: YIPC
Special Prov.: BE+DK+FR+DE+IT+NL+ES+SE+CH+GB+IE+AT+NO+FI+PT+GR+LU+CZ+RO+PL+EE+HU
Establishment: ESTEC
Directorate: Directorate of Tech, Eng. & Quality
Department: Mechanical Engineering Department
Division: Propulsion & Aerothermodynamics Division
Responsible: Ortega Hernando, Guillermo
Products: Satellites & Probes / Propulsion / Chemical Propulsion ¿ BB / Flow control and distribution devices (pipes, valves, actuators, filters, pressure transducers, pressure regulators)
Techology Domains: Propulsion / Supporting Propulsion Technologies and Tools / Modelling
Industrial Policy Measure: N/A - Not apply

The life span of space craft in orbit is mainly limited by the amount of available fuel for attitude control and repositioning tasks. The possibility to refuel a satellite after some years in orbit could therefore extend the duration and thereby lower the costs of space craft operation, significantly. Refueling of space craft requires to localize and approach the satellite, position a second space craft sufficiently steady with respect to the target satellite, connect both by a fuel supply system and transfer the fuel from the supplying chaser spacecraft to the receiving satellite. The flow of fuel from a tank of the fuel providing spacecraft through connectors, valves and pipes in a micro gravity environment, as well as control of sloshing motion in tanks has to be analyzed with Fluid Dynamical methods. The transfer of large quantities of fuel has a significant effect on the Center of Gravity (cog) of both spacecraft and therefore has to be carefully controlled by adequate GNC methods. Connecting the crafts with a fuel transfer system requires Mechanisms and Robotics activities, as well as disconnecting the spacecraft safely after fuel transfer. Save and reliable engine restart of the propulsion system of the fuel providing space craft in a micro gravity environment and space craft separation procedures will require input of all participating disciplines. The activity will prototype the following combined subsystems in closed loop of the chaser as well as the target spacecraft: Fluid dynamics, Mechanisms, Robotics, and GNC. The activity will prototype alsothe required interfaces on the side of the target (connectors, valves, pipes, visual/thermal markers, retro-reflectors, etc.).This activity will cover servicing of telecommunications, navigation, and Earth observation missions. Two mission scenarios in LEO and inGEO will be considered for prototyping, where chaser and target will mate to transfer a fluid between the two spacecraft. Relevant testing of key functionalities of the mentioned subsystems will be performed for the prototype on a representative test bench at ESA/ESTEC.

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