The French Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation began recognizing successful European research projects coordinated by French institutions in 2013. The prize, known as Étoiles de l’Europe or Stars of Europe, is granted to promote EU-funded collaborative scientific research activities.
The EU-funded EROSS project was named one of the winners of this prestigious prize in the innovation category nine years later. On December 2, 2021, project study manager Dr Vincent Dubanchet of French satellite maker Thales Alenia Space received the award at a ceremony held at the Quai Branly Museum.
The EROSS project, which was coordinated by Thales Alenia Space, demonstrated essential technological solutions for on-orbit satellite servicing missions. Missions requiring very versatile space vehicles include satellite inspection, robotic manipulation, satellite service life extension, in-orbit refueling, and space trash deorbiting. The main building elements of these vehicles were developed by EROSS, who also improved their functionality and performance.
The EROSS project is part of the EU’s Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) action plan for space robotics’ second phase. The first SRC phase was I3DS, an earlier EU-funded project managed by Thales Alenia Space that focused on the development of cutting-edge sensors for space exploration missions. In 2019, I3DS was also awarded the Étoiles de l’Europe award.
The SRC’s third and final phase is the EROSSplus project, which is likewise directed by Thales Alenia Space. The project team will create an on-orbit servicing and assembly demonstration mission for future commercial European robotic missions during this phase.
The European Robotic Orbital Support Services (EROSS) project came to a conclusion in June 2021. The 2-year EROSSplus (European Robotic Orbital Support Services +) project, which follows on from EROSS, will conclude in January 2023.