With the successful flight of ESA’s IXV on Wednesday the 11th of February, 2015, the vehicle performing a suborbital flight from separation from Vega to splashdown in the Pacific under parachutes, Elecnor Deimos proved its capacity as an European actor in reentry GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) and software, having flight qualified its reentry GNC technology.

Developed after over 12 years of research and development, internally funded and with ESA and the European Commission, Deimos’ GNC technology flew the IXV from orbital conditions at 120km alititude down to a precise splashdown in the Pacific, successfully demonstrating its capacity to autonomously guide (trajectory generation and tracking) and pilot (control) reentry vehicles for precision landing. The experimental vehicle is 5 m long, 1.5 m high, and 2.2 m wide – about the size of a car – and weighs almost 2 t.

This was a further step for Deimos in its development of GNC and AOCS subsystem capacities. Deimos is already a proven and leading player in AOCS for Earth Observation (EO), through its own Deimos-1 and Deimos-2 EO satellites, and has extended this role to interplanetary GNC and AOCS, with its participation in programs such as ESA’s Exomars 16 and 18 missions, Euclid and Lunar Lander.

Deimos’ GNC technology flew the IXV from orbital conditions at 120km altitude down to a precise splashdown in the pacific

These GNC and AOCS advances are supported by the complementary role Deimos plays in the Mission Analysis and Onboard Software in such missions. This allows Deimos to provide the complete value chain, from mission concept and definition to GNC/AOCS design and validation, as well as its implementation as an embedded on-board software.

The successful flight of IXV proves this value added chain, with the closure of the inner system engineering circle in IXV by Deimos of Mission Analysis, Flight Mechanics and GNC. It also represents an important milestone for Deimos in Spain. It demonstrates the value of its collaboration with ESA and its European partners. For example SENER, which was co-leader with Deimos for the development of IXV’s GNC.

Images credits: ESA- P. Carril, J. Huart, D. Ducros.

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