hArmonised System Study on Interfaces and Standardisation of fuel Transfer


In 2010 the cross-directorate Exploration Scenarios Working Group carried out a survey of space technology that could be used across different application domains, including the Space Exploration (robotic or not) one. Besides other important technologies, Robotic docking and refuelling were identified. In the exploration application domain, Robotic docking and refuelling technologies are essential if space elements, launched by separate means, need to be assembled and refuelled in space. Furthermore when RDV and refuelling technologies are developed and validated for a suitable orbit (i.e. GEO), these could be made available to commercial GEO communication satellites servicing.

While there is still not much belief in civilian satellite servicing and refuelling, operators are puzzled by the fact that the technology is being readied in the military space sector. There is definitely the prospect that satcom satellite servicing may become reality within a decade. In the process of acquiring new spacecraft, which when commissioned will last over 15 years, operators are considering the opportunity to future-proof their new assets. Refuelling provision on a satcom spacecraft are possibly the cheapest and less problematic of all servicing provisions. Hence these constitute an affordable way to protect assets acquired now for a changing future in which satellite servicing may have become mainstream.

To have any chance to be used in a future, these refuelling provisions need to be standardised across the industry. Therefore with this activity ESA intends, together with the European satellite producers (which manufacture commercial but also institutional satellites) to conceive and promote standard refuelling provisions that can be installed in present European satellite platforms.

The proposed activity intends to:
1) Perform a conceptual design of the provisions
2) Architectural definition
3) Breadboard design
4) Functional testing
5) And possibly filing to a standardisation body of the above concept to achieve the status of recognised standard.
NTUA-CSL is subcontractor in the project.