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Rendezvous with a satellite
03 November 2016
A unique experiment – with a very special goal – has been devised by the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The AVANTI experiment (Autonomous Visual Approach Navigation and Target Identification) is intended to demonstrate how a satellite can detect a spacecraft in space and approach it autonomously.
This capability will be necessary in the future for capturing old and inactive satellites, as well as space debris, and bringing them into a safe orbit. To this end, scientists are using the recently launched BIROS satellite and the BEESAT-4 pico-satellite that it deployed. The technology for the experiment is based on BIROS, which is meant to represent the 'catcher' satellite. The small BEESAT-4 acts as an 'inactive' satellite in the experiment.
Image credit: DLR