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July 11th, 2018

GomSpace Signs Contract with ESA for First Phase of the RACE Project

GomSpace A/S — a subsidiary of GomSpace Group AB (the ”Company”) — has signed a 400,000 euros contract with ESA for the first phase of the RACE project to deliver two 6U cubesats for an IOD mission to demonstrate the capability of smallsat systems to perform close proximity operations, such as rendezvous and docking, and close fly around maneuvers.

The ability to autonomously rendezvous and dock cubesats could enable on orbit assembly of larger structures that simply would not be possible in any other way. The challenge is that cubesats are faced with tight mass, propellant and power constraints. The control accuracy necessary for docking would be on the order of a single centimeter.

Image is courtesy of EPFL/Jamani Caillet.

The Rendezvous Autonomous CubeSats Experiment (RACE) Mission was conceived by ESA to contribute to system concepts such as autonomous on orbit assembly of large structures (e.g,. optical telescopes, RF antennas) from building blocks, and damage inspection/upgrade of cooperative targets (e.g. larger spacecraft).

GomSpace brings a consortium to the project, consisting of GMV Poland/Romania together with Almatech and Micos from Switzerland, encompassing all the needed expertise for delivering the spacecrafts including the guidance, navigation and control algorithms, docking mechanisms and relative navigation sensors for the mission.

The first phase of the RACE project will be finalized in Q4 2019.