https://www.epo.org/en/node/cosmonautics

Cosmonautics

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Global space activity has intensified and diversified considerably in the past decade. Technological innovations are driving down the cost of access to and use of space and are enabling new missions and applications; new players and countries are increasingly becoming engaged in space and private capital flows into the space sector are gradually growing. The space sector today is an ever more commercially viable domain of human activity and encompasses a diverse set of public and private actors across all continents who engage in a variety of upstream and downstream activities. Active fields of innovation in cosmonautics include systems that provide propulsion, electricity, control and life support for spacecraft as well as detection, tracking and removal of space debris.

Propulsion systems

The propulsion system is the primary mobility system of any spacecraft. Its main function is to produce thrust to permit launch, orbit acquisition, orbit changes, orbit maintenance, position control, station keeping, attitude control, proximity operations, collision avoidance, disposal at end of life and/or deep-space manoeuvres including descent and landing. The ability to perform these tasks with high precision is a key requirement for many space missions.

Liquid propulsion systems

In spacecraft, propulsion systems liquid propellants can be used either alone (monopropellants) or in combination (bipropellants) to provide thrust.

Liquid propulsion systems

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Solid propulsion systems

Solid propulsion systems typically utilise a solid self-burning mixture of fuel and oxidiser and are prominently used in booster or main stages of launcher systems.

Solid propulsion systems

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Air-breathing and hybrid propulsion systems

Air-breathing systems create thrust by using intake air for burning a propellant: prominent examples include ramjets and scramjets.

Air-breathing and hybrid propulsion systems

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Electrostatic systems

Electrostatic systems such as Hall effect thrusters, gridded ion engines and field emission thrusters accelerate ions electrostatically to produce thrust.

Electrostatic systems

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Electrothermal systems

In electrothermal propulsion systems, gases are heated and expanded through a nozzle: examples include resistojets and arcjets.

Electrothermal systems

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Electromagnetic systems

Electromagnetic propulsion systems accelerate plasma via an interaction of electric and magnetic fields: examples include magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters and pulsed plasma thrusters.

Electromagnetic systems

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Solar thermal propulsion systems

Solar thermal propulsion systems use solar thermal energy to heat a propellant for propulsion.

Solar thermal propulsion systems

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Nuclear propulsion systems

Nuclear propulsion systems utilise nuclear reactions to produce thrust. Typically, a nuclear reactor is used to heat a working fluid to a high temperature or to generate electrical energy to drive an electrical thruster.

Nuclear propulsion systems

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Solar sailing propulsion systems

Solar sailing propulsion systems are well-suited for use in long duration space flights. They make use of radiation pressure, such as from solar wind, acting upon spacecraft surfaces.

Solar sailing propulsion systems

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Tethered propulsion systems

Tethered propulsion systems make use of long cables for propulsion: examples include momentum exchange tethers, electrodynamic tethers and tethered formations.

Tethered propulsion systems

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Spacecraft electrical power

The functions covered under spacecraft electrical power include production, conversion and storage of power. A variety of technology and implementation options are available for the design of the electrical power subsystem. To generate electrical power, solar arrays are widely used and other options include fuel cells or nuclear reactors. Batteries allow the storage of power onboard the aircraft. Further hardware and software will ensure the control and distribution of power within the spacecraft.

Power system architecture

Power system topologies are designed to meet the power requirements of missions by integrating several functions such as power generation, distribution, storage and management systems.

Power system architecture

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Photovoltaic generator technology

Photovoltaic generators use radiation to generate spacecraft electrical power. Important aspects include supports and fixations, mechanisms to deploy solar panels, and electrical and thermal management of solar panels.

Photovoltaic generator technology

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Fuel cell technologies

Fuel cell technologies make use of chemical reactions, typically hydrogen and oxygen, to generate electricity onboard the spacecraft.

Fuel cell technologies

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Nuclear and thermoelectric power generator technologies

Technologies for deriving electrical energy from thermal energy, generated by solar energy and nuclear reactors for spacecraft power generation, are also used in space applications.

Nuclear and thermoelectric power generator technologies

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Electrochemical technologies for energy storage

Batteries allow the storage of electrical energy onboard spacecraft. Fields of innovation include the arrangements and integration of electrochemical cells on and into spacecraft and their electrical and thermal management.

Electrochemical technologies for energy storage

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Mechanical technology for energy storage

Mechanical technologies for storing energy onboard a spacecraft cover constructional aspects of energy storage devices and their control and regulation. Flywheels are a well-known example for mechanical energy storage onboard spacecraft.

Mechanical technology for energy storage

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Space system control

Space system control covers the technologies and methods which allow spacecraft to determine and control their attitude and orbit. The attitude and orbit control system (AOCS) provides means to identify the orientation of a spacecraft, compute the necessary commands to stabilise or reorient it, control its rotational state and point onboard systems in desired directions during the mission. The determination and control of the spacecraft orbit to achieve an end orbit or position (e.g. transfer, rendezvous, repositioning and interplanetary), or to overcome a perturbation, is achieved thanks to the guidance and navigation control (GNC).

AOCS/GNC architecture

Architectures for the attitude and orbit control system (AOCS) and for guidance and navigation control (GNC) include the design of systems and integration of components to enable precise orientation, navigation and attitude control.

AOCS/GNC architecture

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Autonomy and FDIR

Autonomy and fault detection, isolation and recovery (FDIR) are essential functions, especially for unmanned missions with long periods of no or intermittent contact between ground station and spacecraft.

Autonomy and FDIR

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GNC technologies for entry, descent and landing

GNC technologies for entry, descent, and landing cover technologies such as braking and precision landing.

GNC technologies for entry, descent and landing

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GNC technologies for cruise, rendezvous and docking of capture

Guidance and navigation control systems for cruise, rendezvous and docking of spacecraft are key systems for many space missions, including missions for debris removal.

GNC technologies for cruise, rendezvous and docking of capture

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High accuracy pointing technologies

High accuracy pointing technologies ensure communication, data collection and precise targeting of onboard instruments.

High accuracy pointing technologies

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AOC/GNC optical sensors

Optical sensors such as sun/star and horizon sensors are used to determine the orientation of the spacecraft relative to celestial reference points and provide input data for AOCS and GNC systems.

AOC/GNC optical sensors

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AOC/GNC inertial and magnetic sensors

Inertial sensors, such as gyroscopes and accelerometers, and magnetic sensors such as magnetometers, determine the spacecrafts attitude.

AOC/GNC inertial and magnetic sensors

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AOC/GNC inertial and magnetic actuators

Inertial and magnetic actuators control the attitude of the spacecraft: examples include reaction wheels and magnetic torquers.

AOC/GNC inertial and magnetic actuators

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Life support

Life support covers habitation structures and crew or passenger accommodation as well as protection against ionising radiation, ions or plasma in manned spacecraft. Also included are extravehicular activity (EVA) suits or space suits which are essential for astronauts to perform activities outside their spacecraft. These suits protect the astronauts against extreme temperatures, vacuum, micrometeoroids as well as radiation while also allowing for mobility. EVA suits typically provide a stable internal pressure and include thermal control and life support systems. Additionally, systems for controlling environmental and living conditions onboard spacecraft are also covered under life support.

Habitation primary and secondary structure technologies

Structural aspects of manned spacecraft include design and constructional details of habitation modules and cabins for crew and passengers in interplanetary vehicles and space stations.

Habitation primary and secondary structure technologies

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EVA suits

EVA suits cover many aspects of apparel for use in space, ranging from protective garments for EVA suits to life support systems for EVA suits.

EVA suits, mechanical aspects

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Control of environment and living conditions

Systems for controlling the environmental parameters within spacecraft include devices for treating the atmosphere within manned spacecraft, such as oxygen generators and devices for air conditioning and temperature control.

Control of environment and living conditions

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Space debris

The vast majority of objects currently in orbit are space debris. According to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) definition, space debris encompasses all non-functional, synthetic objects, including fragments and elements, in Earth's orbit or re-entering the atmosphere. Operating satellites represent only 7% of space objects larger than 10cm and a negligible proportion of the total population of objects in space. Space debris is a safety risk for spacecraft especially in near-Earth orbits. Active fields of innovation in the context of space debris are the detection and surveillance of space objects as well as technologies related to debris removal.

Ground-based radar measurements of debris and meteorites

Ground-based measurements typically use radar or optical measurement technologies to identify, observe and track debris objects including techniques for orbit determination. The focus of this section is ground-based radar measurement technology.

Ground-based radar measurements of debris and meteorites

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Ground-based optical measurements of debris and meteorites

Ground-based measurements typically use radar or optical measurement technologies to identify, observe and track debris objects including techniques for orbit determination. The focus of this section is on ground-based optical measurement technology.

Ground-based optical measurements of debris and meteorites

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In situ radar and optical measurements of debris and meteorites

Space-based radar and optical measurements constitute another category of techniques for identifying, observing and tracking debris objects.

In situ radar and optical measurements of debris and meteorites

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Debris removal

Techniques and spacecraft for space debris removal are an active field of development including techniques and systems for rendezvous, capturing and de-orbiting debris.

Debris removal

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