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Lúnasa to accelerate development of new RPOD technology for in-orbit services

NEWS: SPRINT project aims to accelerate the development of Lúnasa’s rendezvous and docking capabilities

Funded by SPRINT, will collaborate with University of Surrey’s STAR LAB

With support from the national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme, Lúnasa, a leading developer of in-space transportation solutions, has started a new project with the University of Surrey’s STAR LAB. The SPRINT project will support the development of the company’s rendezvous proximity operations and docking (RPOD) technology.

The primary objective of the SPRINT project is to accelerate the development of Lúnasa’s rendezvous and docking capabilities, identify suitable avionics and electronics, and further develop the concept of operations (CONOPs) in orbit. The technology is set for an orbital demonstration mission by late 2023. Lúnasa’s dual-stage in-space satellite servicing vehicle will be utilising the RPOD technology to become reusable and perform in-orbit satellite services.

Additionally, the project will enable Lúnasa’s engineers to access STAR LAB’s experts and scholars in the fields of computer vision, space robotics, and Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) systems, to support the development of close proximity and docking capabilities.

Amin Chabi, CEO and Founder of Lúnasa, said: “Small Satellite industry is growing rapidly and there is an increasing demand for affordable access to space and in-orbit services. Lúnasa’s vehicles are designed to utilise the RPOD technology to become reusable and perform several in-orbit services e.g. last-mile delivery, life extension, active debris removal, and advanced payload inspection, in Low Earth Orbit and beyond. We are very pleased with the SPRINT grant funding to support the ongoing RPOD development in collaboration with STAR LAB.”

Professor Yang Gao FIET FRAeS, head of Surrey’s STAR LAB team, commented: “We are very pleased to receive this SPRINT grant that aims to foster academia-industry partnership and facilitate knowledge transfer to space SMEs. Our exciting project in collaboration with Lúnasa will advance mission concept for future in-orbit servicing and help consolidate leading roles that the UK can play in the area of autonomous navigation and docking.”

The Space Technology for Autonomous & Robotic systems Laboratory (STAR LAB) within Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey is led by the academic principal investigator, Professor Yang Gao and a team of academic scholars, engineers and roboticists. STAR LAB specialises in space system and mission designs involving perception, GNC and autonomy. The lab is also equipped with facilities to help test and validate relevant research work using software and hardware testbeds.

This project with the University of Surrey will be funded by the £7.4 million SPRINT programme. SPRINT provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

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