What applications and missions does Control Systems enable?
Improved performance Control Systems should enable a new generation of science missions requiring drag-free and formation flying techniques. ESA's twin-spacecraft Proba-3 technology demonstrator, scheduled for early in the next decade, will pave the way for operational formation flying missions. LISA Pathfinder will demonstrate drag-free at unprecedented accuracy with two test masses in a nearly perfect gravitational free-fall, preparing a trio of LISA spacecraft seeking to detect gravitational waves, while the Darwin flotilla of spacecraft will combine light together through an inteferometry technique to deliver a combined resolution equivalent to a single giant telescope, in order to detect Earth-sized exoplanets.
Autonomous navigation systems and Entry Descent and Landing techniques are being worked on to enable landings on planetary surfaces, due to be carried out in the second half of the next decade by the Moon and Mars exploration programmes . The planned follow-up Mars Sample Return Mission (MSR) will additionally require autonomous rendezvous and capture of cannisters to be returned to Earth.
Control Systems also encapsulates design analysis and verification of the Vega launcher, as well as Next Generation Launcher efforts, notably the re-entry vehicle Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV).
Last update: 29 September 2009