key technologies for future european space missions
Embotech: Partner of ESA’s
Future Launchers Preparatory PrograM (FLPP)
Embotech is excited to be part of the Future Launchers Preparatory Program (FLPP) led by ESA. This program is laying the foundations to lower the cost of access to space in future European missions. We have successfully completed two activities within this framework focused on the assessment of optimal guidance technologies for launcher reusability and performance enhancement. As part of these studies, we have developed modular flight simulators with real-time capabilities, designed trajectory generation, mission management and control algorithms, and implemented real-time software. We have also developed software tools and hardware infrastructure to assess and verify functional and software performance.
The developed software is in process of getting qualified for flight and will be tested in the Demonstrator for Technologies Validation (DTV) vehicle developed by INCAS.
The same design framework has been used in another FLPP activity to design guidance and control software for orbital missions where there is a need for rapid attitude acquisition and pointing in the presence of multiple constraints.
In the near future Embotech will take part in new ESA activities to further use this design and validation framework to design guidance and control software for the Heracles lunar ascender and rendezvous maneuvers for in-orbit servicing and debris removal missions.
Video: During the maneuver the spacecraft needs to change orientation and keep its antenna pointing inside the blue cone while avoiding that one of its scientific instruments crosses into the unsafe zone of the red cone.
Embotech Engineering Services
The space industry is undergoing a period of profound change led by a push to reduce the cost of access to space. To achieve this goal, many companies have identified the need for reusability, and increasing adaptability and robustness for future missions. At Embotech, we believe that our technology can play a key role in the development of future spaceflight capabilities. The ability to compute optimal flight trajectories on-demand, on-board the space vehicle, and based on the conditions encountered during the actual flight will provide future missions with unprecedented robustness and flexibility.
We are experts in online trajectory generation, optimal control, and embedded real-time software. During the last decade we have developed the software tools necessary to be able to solve convex and nonlinear optimization problems in real-time on embedded computers. Our engineering team has the blend of skills necessary to design the guidance and control algorithms and software for complex future space missions.
Our services include the development of simulators, modeling of trajectory generation and optimal control problems, algorithmic design and embedded software implementation. To support these engineering design services, we have developed an adaptable software validation facility to verify the behavior of complex real-time code. Our engineering design processes closely follow the ECSS standards.
Video: The top video shows a DTV mission scenario that illustrates the capability of the guidance and control software to change target while flying and adapt to a partial fault in the propulsion system.
FORCES PRO for Space Applications:
The capability to solve a complex optimization problem in real-time is a key enabling technology for meeting the goals of challenging space missions. Embotech’s efficient optimization technology makes this paradigm shift possible.
FORCES PRO is a state-of-the-art client/server code generation system for optimization problems. Its main features for space applications include:
- Modeling of optimal trajectory generators and model predictive controllers via an easy-to-use MATLAB interface
- Support for linear and quadratic programming, second-order cone programming, nonlinear programming and mixed-integer programming
- Generates library-free, statically allocated C code compliant with the MISRA 2012 safety guidelines
- Generated solvers come with interfaces for Simulink, MATLAB, Python and C/C++
- Includes validation tools to find potential weak points in the optimization design
ESA Business Incubator:
Due to the strong synergies between our space autonomy technology and our automotive applications on Earth, Embotech was selected for the ESA Business Incubator Switzerland and was part of the program between May 2017 and April 2019. Embotech has successfully completed all phases of the program, which involved extending optimization technology towards automotive motion planning applications and preparing a strategy to address the large market potential in autonomous vehicles. Embotech, now an ex-incubatee, is still a proud alumni of the ESA BIC program.