The 4DCube project awarded as third winner of the Open Cosmos & ESA “Call to Orbit” competition
The third winner of the Call to Orbit competition is the space debris mapping project 4DCube, led by a multidisciplinary team from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya, IEEC), with members from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences ICCUB, the Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies (CTE -UPC) and the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE - CSIC).
4DCube was selected as the third of ten winners of the Call to Orbit programme, providing it with valuable space mission expertise by Open Cosmos, including mission software and access to satellite payload integration and test hardware, plus knowledge, advice, and introduction to a valuable network to further develop their idea via the European Space Agency. The team of 4DCube are proposing an unprecedented approach to detect and track small-sized and composite debris, which pose a serious risk for orbiting spacecraft. These small pieces of space junk are not being detected by other debris-associated projects, while at the same time small debris is considered a major concern, due to their large number and their often significant orbital velocities.
The impact of such accurate mapping of small space debris is significant, helping both institutional and commercial satellite operators to assess and mitigate the associated risks. It also provides important clues to help clean existing debris and prevent more debris being added in the future.
José Maria Gómez Cama, member of ICCUB, IEEC and associate professor of the Department of Electronic and Biomedical Engineering of the University of Barcelona said: “The possibility to perform a realistic and qualifying testing thanks to tested tools from Open Cosmos shall serve as an inflexion point to make the application of composite debris mapping feasible, as well as to make IEEC’s technological platform reliable and ready for In-Orbit Demonstration.”
Rafel Jordá Siquier, founder and CEO of Open Cosmos said: “Open Cosmos is dedicated to the sustainable use of space and is acutely aware of the risks imposed by space debris. We are excited to support this project that aims at mapping space debris in unprecedented detail, providing a much-improved insight in the size of the problem.”
Niels Eldering of ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions added: “it is great to see young entrepreneurial firms engage in the challenge of clean space. In particular on this topic both established industry and entrepreneurial thinking is needed.”
About Call to Orbit
Run by Open Cosmos in collaboration with ESA, the Call to Orbit competition allows a diverse range of organisations to put their technologies and service-oriented applications into orbit. It reduces the amount of time and money needed to get a satellite-based business off the ground, especially for companies developing new technologies or validating the commercial potential of a new application.
In total 10 winners are awarded access to Open Cosmos’ orbit readiness program for free, with the partnership of ESA Pioneer SAPION program.