Creation of an Advanced Space Concept Laboratory (SaCLab)

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Created by a partnership between Airbus, Ariane Group and ISAE-SUPAERO, and with support from Fondation ISAE SUPAERO, the Chair for Advanced Space Concepts furthers the study of future space concepts at the system level. The Advanced Space Concept Laboratory (SaCLab) develops and implements research and teaching projects in this field of the future.

A double industrial sponsorship

Initiated by ISAE-SUPAERO, the Chair is supported by two global leaders in the aerospace industry: Airbus and Ariane Group. Created to answer the challenges of the next space missions, the Chair leads studies on advanced space concepts, in other words design of unidentified systems, some of which are even inspired from Science Fiction . Future missions to explore the solar system face many challenges such as managing space debris, autonomous navigation missions to asteroids, in-orbit maintenance of satellites (ex telecommunications), space traffic management and the architecture of manned space stations on the surface of the Moon or Mars.

Collaboration between researchers and industry is crucial for these future missions. “We have transitioned from a period during which space missions had a singular, nearly artisanal aspect, to an era of industrialization of space concepts making possible regular activities in space”, explains Stéphanie Lizy-Destrez, associate professor and head of the Chair for Advanced Space Concepts (SaCLab).

SacLab: an interdisciplinary approach
The SacLab is affiliated with the Department of Aerospace Vehicles Design and Control (DCAS) at ISAE-SUPAERO. It has a diverse spectrum of expertise including system architecture and engineering, mission analysis and optimization, human factors or robotics, to answer the following integrated themes:

  • IIn-orbit servicing for telecommunication satellites;
  • In-space structural assembly – 3D printing;
  • Active Debris Removal;
  • Architecture of manned space stations (Moon and Mars);
  • Space weather ;
  • Architecture of new space transport systems (reuse, concepts integrating innovative space propulsion systems).

Architecture, design, economics, and even the law, along with other disciplines not directly related to the aerospace field are also at the heart of these issues.
The laboratory aims to become the leading specialized, world renowned laboratory in Europe for research on future space systems.

Promising beginnings…

In December 2017, a special event to launch the Chair and SaCLab provided an opportunity to present the scope and challenges of the chair, and to strengthen relations between industry and ISAE-SUPAERO faculty, researchers, and students. At this stage, ISAE SUPAERO students are already involved in studying different topics related to issues explored by SaCLab.

Engineering students are currently working on two themes common to Airbus and Ariane Group: exploration missions to the sun and reuse of launchers. Students in the TAS ASTRO Advanced Masters program are thinking about a project proposed by Airbus dealing with space debris management (Space garage/In-Orbit Service/ In-Space Assembly).

At the same time, the first thesis overseen by the laboratory will start in early 2018 and will focus on reuse of launchers, with the aim of designing a reliable, high performance system permitting regular traffic for transporting resources in space. One of the objectives of this system would be to export hydrogen and oxygen from the Moon to the DSG (DeepSpace Gateway) international space station, to transform it into fuel to be used for example to refuel geostationary satellites. Two interns have been recruited to support work for a six month period.

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