Sener Aeroespacial, a company of the engineering and technology group Sener, has signed the contract with AVIO for phases C / D of the navigation unit of the Vega-C carrier VNE (Vega-C Navigation Equipment) after the successful completion of phases A (feasibility study) and B (preliminary draft). Phase C includes the development of the detailed design and Phase D is the qualification and delivery phase of the first flight model.
The aerospace company is the design authority for this unit, which is supplied to the customer as a comprehensive product, the main advantage of which is to reduce production costs by incorporating processes and materials from the defense world to achieve mass production of a critical component for a space mission. In addition, this contract opens the door to serial production of navigation units for successive Vega-C launches and other space missions.
The navigation unit provides the position of the rocket, a compass in six dimensions (position and attitude of the launcher) for the guidance, navigation and control system (GNC) developed by AVIO, which is required to drive the rocket. Naviga is therefore a critical component for the success of the mission. This component combines an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and a GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver and combines both measurements to produce a high performance SW Class A product, which is most critical in the aerospace industry but at the same time has a low cost Compared to inertial navigation units available on the market.
In the words of those responsible for the project at Sener Aeroespacial, the development of this navigation unit puts us at the forefront of an emerging market in Europe, medium-sized space equipment with good performance and high reliability. We achieved this product by combining our 55 years of experience in the traditional space market with more than 270 devices and systems that have carried out space missions without fail, and our experience in mass production of products for other markets such as defense and the commercial Satellite telecommunications market that implies cheaper processes and components to adapt to the demands of a more competitive market.
Naviga is a navigation unit that combines two elements for future space transportation systems: low cost and versatility. The design of a unit that can achieve the same performance as other similar room navigation units at a low cost was made possible thanks to the combination of the knowledge and experience in room navigation solutions with the technical knowledge in developing products. Precision aerospace and defense equipment for complex environments.
The three implementation aspects that will be applied to the project to reduce the recurring cost of the unit while maintaining the required performance are: the use of sensor hybridization techniques to provide a robust navigation solution; the inclusion of radiation tolerant parts from the automotive market (new to space); and the introduction of mass manufacturing processes for the production of the unit.
The second key element, versatility, is achieved through the modular and flexible design, which enables a complete and qualified unit that can be adapted to other environments with small modifications and tests, for example short-term space missions. The benefits of this versatility are significant in today’s marketplace, which is increasingly demanding new products in less time and with lower development costs.
The two elements are supplemented by a third: Naviga is a fully European entity that guarantees independence from ITAR restrictions.
In order to develop this product, the company has invested its own funds and equipped itself with new specific equipment within the facilities that allow components used in the defense and automotive markets to qualify for space projects with much higher demands.
The project is the result of the collaboration between the Italian companies AVIO and CIVITANAVI Systems and the Spanish company Elecnor DEIMOS. The VNE / Naviga project is funded under the Vega-C program of the European Space Agency (ESA).
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