London, 15/02/2023 – Blackswan Space, a Lithuanian-based developer of space technology software, has announced the award of three contracts from ESA to add new functionalities to the GNC Rendezvous, Approach, and Landing Simulator (GRALS) facility at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands.
GRALS supports the development and testing of complex space missions requiring rendezvous and docking in orbit as well as landing or touchdown on planetary surfaces. Two robotic arms coupled with a 33-meter-long linear track are used in the facility to simulate approach scenarios for hardware in the loop tests. The work will be focused on adding new functionalities for simulating rendezvous and docking scenarios using vision-based navigation.
Blackswan Space will implement state-of-the-art robotics algorithms and develop physically accurate and photo-realistic real-time computer simulations to create a digital version of the facility in a 3D environment with Virtual Reality (VR) capabilities.
Additionally, they will work with the agency to develop an open-source 3D model of a geostationary satellite to support rendezvous and docking as well as berthing and capture technology development. The information from the three projects will be integrated into the ACE autonomy platform, which is targeted at in-orbit servicing, debris removal, and satellite constellation operators.