eSpace leads several innovative space engineering research projects with partners such as Innosuisse and ESA.
They can rely on an intense collaboration with a number of state-of-the-art labs on EPFL Campus with expertise in navigation, materials, robotics, etc. An extended list of these labs can be found HERE.

Innosuisse Projects

Relative Navigation

This project is a collaboration with the HEIG-VD, ClearSpace and the EPFL labs CVLab, ESL and RGLab. ClearSpace will build and operate a commercially viable solution to address failed satellites and prevent the proliferation of debris that could endanger future space operations. The aim of the project is to develop digital AI-based technologies for relative navigation and rendezvous with the targets.

  • Relative navigation (estimation of the 6 degree of freedom of a Target object) and radar R&D
  • Bring the technology maturity from a TRL 3 to TRL 4 (alpha version for the relative pose estimation and a tested prototype for the radar)

lmpulse-SpaceRelNav: Relative Navigation technologies for Failed Satellite Removal (Application no. 38398, lP-lCT)

Capture System Concept Validation

ClearSpace is building up a service to remove debris from space. ClearSpace proposes to develop the key technologies needed for a successful capture in this Innosuisse project, to guarantee that a high TRL can be reached quickly and in a most efficient way through the use of the knowhow of the research partners such as CSEM and EPFL labs LSMS and Rehassist. The project increases the TRL from 2 to 4 for the proximity and contact sensing system, and the tentacle control to reach a robust adaptronic capture system design.
Capture Dynamics Simulation Tool which allows​:

    • Simulating relative movement and dynamics of target/chaser​
    • Predicting stresses within the capture system​
    • Simulating the motions of the arms​
    • Control Algorithms

Capture System Concept Validation (Application no. 44145.1, lP-lCT)

ESA Projects

In-Situ Resource Utilization and Additive Manufacturing 

Sustainable and affordable missions to the lunar surface (and beyond) are an aspiration which will need to be supported through a combined scientific and technological progress in in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and additive manufacturing (AM). The entire lunar surface is covered by an unconsolidated layer of regolith rich in minerals and oxides, constituting several meters of thick soil which could be de-oxidized and yield oxygen and metallic by-product intended for sustainment of human life, propellant and construction of lunar infrastructure.

EPFL lab LMTM has proposed a comprehensive investigation on the printability of these by-products followed by mechanical characterization and the recycling effects of the powder feed-stock and the LPBF processed parts. These parts can be used in structural and load-bearing applications on the lunar surface and cis-lunar missions.

3d render of resources utilization on the moon

© ESA

Incorporation of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and Additive Manufacturing (AM) for Lunar Exploration
(Request for Quotation ref. 20-D-R-TEC-09)

Other Projects

Design for Demise

This thesis project at LPAC and eSpace is focused on the design of a novel composite structure panel that will improve the overall demisability of a spacecraft during its destructive reentry in the atmosphere at the end of its mission. This technology is planned to be integrated into the ClearSpace-1 spacecraft active debris removal mission planned for 2025. This study includes numerical and experimental aero-thermo-mechanical interactions analysis regarding the different types of reentry conditions according to the selected decommissioning strategy.

As part of a Network Partnering Initiative (NPI) supervised by EPFL and ESA, this project aims to get a step forward in the mitigation of reentry surviving space debris threat.

Partners involved:

  • ESA-ESTEC focus on the concept, generic overview of the Clean Space missions
  • IRS supporting characterization and Plasma Wind Tunnel experimental on the components
  • Belstead Ltd. lessons learn form previous demise experiments and support on modelling and simulation

Swiss Industries:

  • RUAG technical data on spacecraft structure (metallic and CFRP), space certification
  • Icotech technical data on CFRP fasteners
  • Bcomp technical data high performance natural fiber
3d render from esa design for demise

© ESA

Moon Crane

Yamato Transport, the EPFL Transport and Mobility Lab (TRANSP-OR) and the EPFL Space Center (eSpace) join forces to envision novel transportation systems for delivering parcels on Earth and infrastructure on extraterrestrial bodies.

  • Lunar surface-to-surface vehicle
  • Modular & reusable
  • Geological or resources survey, infrastructure development, etc.
  • Proposed wide-area multi-site survey for searching for water on the Moon
  • Submitted to AIAA SciTech conference
3d render of the moon crane