OHB awarded contract for overall system management for the definition phase of the DEOS German robotics mission

artist impression DEOS 1. source: SpaceTech GmbH
artist impression of the servicer reaching the client. source: SpaceTech GmbH

The Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center has assigned OHB-System AG overall system management for the definition phase (Phase B) of a future German Orbital Servicing Mission (DEOS). Accordingly, the Bremen-based space technology company will be assuming system responsibility within the preparatory mission and product definition activities.

Says Berry Smutny, CEO of OHB-System AG: "The DEOS mission is an outstanding example of German high technology in space. It combines robotics, satellite construction and drive and position control technology with the aim of disposing of decommissioned satellites. DEOS provides a good opportunity for propelling Germany to the international forefront with these technologies. We thank DLR for its confidence in OHB-System's ability to manage this highly complex system."

The purpose of the DEOS project is to demonstrate the technologies required for a future operational on-orbit servicing system for the unmanned robot-based inspection, maintenance and assembly of orbiting infrastructure elements as well as controlled orbit changes and returns to earth. In addition to inspection and maintenance, this system will particularly also help to reduce space debris by disposing of decommissioned satellites in a controlled manner. DEOS is to demonstrate the technologies and capabilities required for this under real space conditions, e.g. locating and approaching satellites, collecting and manipulating them on a non-destructive basis and controlled disposal. For this purpose, two satellites, one acting as a servicer and the other as a client, will be jointly placed in a low orbit but separated from one another. This will be followed by an extensive demonstration and verification program, after which the satellite array will enter the earth's atmosphere and be incinerated.

DEOS is being executed by the DLR Space Agency with funding provided by the German Ministry of Economics and Technology. The overall "DEOS Phase B" project is divided into five segments, which have been awarded separately to individual system managers in the following areas: overall system, service satellite platform, target satellite platform,  berthing, docking and maintenance mission element and satellite approach and disposal mission element.

OHB-System AG will be responsible for Segment 1 "System management of the overall system" with support of Phase A leader SpaceTech GmbH and is tasked in this capacity with coordinating and monitoring the overall project, consolidating all design, engineering and product verification activities and the specifications of the mission and the entire system including the launcher, space and ground segments. The cross-segment coordination, management and engineering activities will pose a particular challenge in this connection.

Segment 2 "Service satellite platform" has been allocated to Astrium GmbH in Immenstaad. This segment entails the definition of the platform for the service satellite which performs the functions for finding, approaching and collecting a target satellite, i.e. the client.

SpaceTech GmbH of Immenstaad is responsible for Segment 3, the definition of the target satellite platform. The smaller of the two satellites is the target for the approach, collection and maintenance experiments and also performs the orbit-lowering and re-entry maneuvers.

Kayser-Threde GmbH from Munich, an affiliate of OHB-System AG, will be handling Segment 4, i.e. the definition of the robotic system and the berthing, docking and maintenance elements of the mission. This system chiefly comprises the robotic payload of the service satellite and is made up of a robotic arm, a docking mechanism and all robotic elements including the necessary sensors and actuators for manipulation and the requisite control and instrumentation facilities for these elements.

Astrium GmbH in Bremen has been awarded Segment 5 "Satellite approach and disposal", i.e. the design of processes, sensors and control facilities required to approach the target satellite, perform orbital maneuvers and execute the disposal.

DEOS marks the continuation of a long and successful tradition in Germany of the development of innovative robotics for use in space. The project will be implementing sophisticated satellite inspection, maintenance and disposal technologies in a system demonstrator. In this way, Germany will be able to make a decisive contribution in the future to ensuring more efficient satellite operations as well as the avoidance of space debris.

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Günther Hörbst
Head of Corporate Communications

Manfred-Fuchs-Platz 2-4
28359 Bremen

Phone.: +49 421 2020-9438
Mobile: +49 171 1931041
Email: guenther.hoerbst@ohb.de