Wednesday 24 June, research laboratories, start-ups, PMEs and other firms presented their work contributing to the launch systems of the future to a top-level audience. In all, €750,000 worth of CNES contracts was awarded to the laureates, who each received €50,000 or €100,000 to develop their solutions.
At its Innovation Day on 7 February in Toulouse, CNES announced a Launchers R&D Challenge under its Connect by CNES initiative, in partnership with ArianeGroup and ESA, designed to ease access to funding for launch systems. The challenge’s main themes cover launcher stage reuse, launcher optimization, processing of unconventional fuels like liquid methane and reduction of carbon footprints. In the current crisis, this unique event aims to support the space ecosystem.
The challenge laureates are:
• Arkane, applying artificial intelligence to an array of embedded wireless sensors
• Hionos, applying aviation standards to generate launcher flight software
• Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, with a system for measuring propellant mass in microgravity using acoustic waves
• Venture Orbital System, with a 3D-printed combustion chamber
• Oledcomm, employing LiFi optical communications technology for launcher communication systems
• Posithôt, with its non-destructive testing solution using positons (anti-matter) for advanced detection of critical launcher structural defects
• Meliad, for improvements to composite material bonding using laser surface treatment
• Exotrail, for conceiving and building a motorized dispenser capable of carrying nanosatellites on Ariane 6 and placing them into specific orbits using electric propulsion
• Sokaris, for energy absorbers designed to equip the legs of a reusable launcher stage
• Pytheas Technology, with its proposed onboard structural health diagnostics system based on piezoelectric sensors
Commenting on the event, CNES’s Launch Vehicles Director Jean-Marc Astorg said: “With this Pitch Day, we can say that CNES has accomplished its goals of expediting selection and contract notification while opening up to new players. I would like to warmly thank all of the participants for their great presentations and innovative proposals, as the event’s success is above all down to their efforts, and I look forward to the next such challenge organized by CNES.”