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GMV Leads In-Space Refueling Tech Development with UK Space Agency Funding
The project, underway since October and lasting until February 2025, aims to build a distributed simulation environment equipped with Digital Twins and Virtual Reality components to validate and verify operations for in-orbit refueling.
GMV Leads In-Space Refueling Tech Development with UK Space Agency Funding
by Sophie Jenkins
London, UK (SPX) Dec 27, 2023

In a significant boost to the UK's space technology sector, GMV, a leader in aerospace and defense systems, has been selected by the UK Space Agency for a substantial project in the realm of in-orbit servicing. The Enabling Technologies Programme (ETP), an initiative of the UK Government aimed at accelerating the space sector's development, is providing GMV with GBP 250,000 (approximately Euro 277,776) to spearhead the "REALM: Virtual Reality Aided Spacecraft Refuelling for IOSM Verification and Validation" project.

The project, which commenced in October and is set to conclude in February 2025, seeks to establish a distributed simulation environment integrating Digital Twins and Virtual Reality components. This innovative approach is geared towards validating and verifying operations critical to in-orbit refueling. To realize this ambitious project, GMV is collaborating with notable companies in the sector, including Thales Alenia Space, Satellite Applications Catapult, and Pitch.

The ETP, which has earmarked GBP 4 million for advancing cutting-edge space technology programs, is channeling GBP 3.2 million to the UK Space Agency and an additional GBP 800,000 to the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), under the UK Research and Innovation office (UKRI). The program's primary objective is to fund industry and academic endeavors that focus on efficient space utilization, weather prediction enhancements, and space debris removal strategies.

Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, remarked on the importance of science and space technology, stating, "This programme demonstrates how the UK Space Agency is empowering scientists, university engineers, businesses, and research institutes to develop new capabilities and advance future technologies."

Juan Bevan, Head of Space Systems - Flight Segment and Robotics at GMV's UK subsidiary, expressed gratitude for the funding, highlighting its significance in advancing critical technologies in guidance, navigation, and orbital robotics control. Bevan also pointed out the strategic importance of this investment for GMV, aligning with the company's goal to capture a substantial share of the global IOSM market by 2030, a target underscored in the 'UK In-Orbit Servicing Capability: A Platform for Growth' report by Satellite Applications Catapult in 2021.

GMV's project represents a novel convergence of VR technology and space systems, offering a fresh approach to the challenges of in-orbit refueling. The utilization of Digital Twins in this context is particularly noteworthy, as it allows for precise simulation and analysis of complex space systems. This technology, combined with VR, offers an immersive and detailed environment for testing and planning space operations, a critical factor in the advancing field of In-Space Refueling or In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM).

The collaboration with established entities like Thales Alenia Space and the Satellite Applications Catapult further bolsters the project's potential, bringing together diverse expertise from across the space technology sector. This initiative not only highlights the UK's commitment to advancing its space industry but also positions GMV as a frontrunner in the development of next-generation space technologies.

The project's success could pave the way for more efficient and sustainable space operations, contributing significantly to the longevity of spacecraft and the reduction of space debris. With the UK Space Agency's support, GMV is poised to make a substantial impact in the realm of space technology and exploration.

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