Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PERASPERA (PERASPERA (AD ASTRA) Plan European Roadmap and Activities for SPace Exploitation of Robotics and Autonomy)
Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2019-09-30
A Strategic Research Cluster is a new instrument developed by the EC for the H2020 programme, aimed at achieving a tight integration of research and development activities towards a common highly visible goal.
The overall objective of the SRC is to deliver, within the 2023/2024 framework, key enabling technologies and demonstrate autonomous robotic systems at a significant scale as key elements for on-orbit satellite servicing and planetary exploration.
The potential for a significant market for robotics based on-orbit servicing exists.
It is different from those of other commercial space sectors like communication or navigation. In these areas we are looking at “space-to-ground” businesses, space assets are used to create benefits on ground.
The application of space robotics leads for the first time ever to a new quality of business, which can be called a “space-for-space” business. Space assets are used to improve and optimise the operation of spacecraft.
The expected improvement is in the re-use of space assets, with economic and environmental benefits, and the expected optimisation is in the increased operational flexibility, which also has economic benefits.
Increased use of smarter autonomy also brings benefits in planetary exploration, allowing lower opeartion costs and increased yield of science for the same mission.
The reference period has seen the:
• continuation of the recurring activities
• conclusion of all 1st cycle activities
• initiation of all 2nd cycle activities
• support to the REA/EC for initiation of 3rd cycle activities
The remaining objectives of the first cycle were:
• Support to the REA/EC in the conclusion of the awarded Operational Grants
The activities pertaining the 2nd cycle were:
• Support to the REA/EC in the GAP,kick-off, review, and execution of Operational Grant
• Planning for the exploitation of the SRC results
• Monitoring of the risks associated to the SRC
The activities pertaining the 3rd cycle were:
• Provision to the REA/EC of the initial material to support the 2020 call
In particular PERASPERA has addressed the expected impacts specifically identified in the work programme topic by the following measures:
--- Identification and definition of all the activities required to address the challenge of this topic ---
The PERASPERA has analysed the needs of both the commercial and institutional sectors, to evaluate the requirements in the field of on-orbit servicing and robotic exploration technologies with a focus on servicing, maintainability and in-orbit assembly of space systems. Beside the robotic technologies and related operational capabilities, the analysis took into account system aspects, i.e. technologies enabling in-space assembled, maintainable satellites.
The analysis led to the formulation of a roadmap articulated on three sequential EC calls for a total of 14 Operational Grants (OGs, three still to be awarded at the time of writing).
The roadmap has been to date the largest coordinated R&D effort in Space Automation and robotics in Europe.
Thanks to the excellent collaboration between the PERASPERA consortium and REA/EC, the roadmap has been implemented so far without major hiccup.
--- Fully detailed master plan to coordinate all the activities for the whole duration of the SRC---
The PERASPERA project has defined a master plan that has allowed tight coordination of the SRC activities. The plan, compatible with the pace dictated by the EC calls, has defined specific milestones for the development of the different technologies for the synchronisation and exchange between sequential and parallel activities.
Where parallel activities were scheduled to contribute to a common result (i.e. the development of common building blocks) common review events were scheduled together.
The coordination has been implemented also considering other fundamental requirements of EC calls. In particular to allow openness to the call, for any possible participants, milestones and deliverables were planned so that data critical for the preparation of a well-informed proposal, were publicly available ahead of any call.
So far 11 Operational Grants have been initiated, involving in the first call, 34 different participants (from 13 different countries) and in the second call, 38 different participants (from 11 different countries).
Despite the huge amount of parties involved, especially in the OGs of call 1, the coordination was very effective.
--- Plan for the analysis and evaluation of the results during the execution of the activities within the SRC---
PERASPERA has provided a detailed plan to ensure the analysis and evaluation of the SRC activities. The plan, embedded in each call through the mechanism of the ‘Technical Annex’ has defined a series of reviews for each of the OGs. The reviews have been attended by the EC/REA and supported by the experts of the PERASPERA consortium.
--- Plan for the specific exploitation and potential use of the SRC expected outputs ---
The potential for a significant market for Space Robotics exists. It is different from those of other commercial space sectors like communication or navigation. In these areas we are looking at “space-to-ground” businesses, space assets are used to create benefits on ground. The application of space robotics leads for the first time ever to a new quality of business, which can be called a “space-for-space” business. Space assets are used to improve and optimize the operation of spacecraft.
The exploitation potential has been ingrained in the same subject of the calls:
• The OG7-9 were asked to demonstrate (albeit on ground) the use of robotics in specific space applications that are foreseen in the short-medium-long term
• The OG12-13 are specifically asked to elaborate on how the flight demonstrator will contribute on their business plans in the field of on-orbit servicing/assembly/manufacturing.
Also with respect to the potential spin-off of products of the SRC, activities to encourage adoption of the building-blocks have been planned and executed.
The use of the building-blocks products (ESROCOS in particular) has been advertised with industrial or commercial robotics in important and large market areas such as automotive, aeronautics, defense, domotics (home automation) and energy (e.g. deep-sea extraction).