The Programme Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted & Innovative Groups of Experts & Researchers (StarTiger) is conceived as an ESA initiative within the Basic Technology Research Program (TRP) aiming at facilitating innovative and breakthrough research. StarTiger is proposed as a pillar of innovation addressing not only the technology itself but also the way R&D (Research and Development) is conducted and implemented.
StarTiger is proposed as a pillar of innovation addressing not only the technology itself but also the way R&D (Research and Development) is conducted and implemented. Moreover, the StarTiger development scheme shall facilitate technology spin-in where joint work of space and non-space experts is required in short time so as to ascertain the feasibility of a non-space technology to cover space needs.
The primary concept is to select a multi-disciplinary team of highly motivated scientists and engineers from several institutions and grant them priority access to state of the art equipment, facilities for fixed period of time (~6 months). The core team is collocated to minimize formal interfaces and foster the flow of information within the team.
The first StarTiger Pilot Project was conducted in 2002. The pilot projects led to the development of a prototype of high frequency camera in the 100’s of GHz range. A subsequent StarTiger Announcement of Opportunity resulted in a contract being placed to demonstrate a new Generation of Formation Flying Solar Coronographs.
In 2013 a StarTiger contract named ARMES (Autonomous Refocusing MEchanical System) started which involved the design, development and verification of a breadboard for optical payloads and successfully demonstrated the working principle of the system and its capability in correcting the focus with fine sub-pixel resolution on the Charge Coupled Device. The results obtained were as expected and these provided important information that can be scaled for the design of high-performance optical systems for space applications to implement focus corrections, even when the observed scene from the satellite is at a distance of 600 kilometers.
Two STARTIGER activities have recently been completed:
The first was the ‘Docking Impender’, with ABM space, located in Torun, Poland, which deals with the protection of moving physical objects against the impact of mutual collisions. The proposed solution utilised an energy transducer. The task of the transducer is to accept, transform and dissipate the energy of the physical objects in motion.
The second activity was located in Spain at the premises of GMV (ES) and was completed in 2016 and entitled ORCO (On-ground validation of a Rigid COmbo System).
The main objective was to advance/mature some of the key technologies required to perform complex robotic scenarios (cooperative & non-cooperative) needing a rigid capture mechanism such as a robotic arm, being: Image processing chain for relative navigation and robotic arm operation; Chaser vehicle GNC for approach and for close proximity operations; Simultaneous operation of two control system i.e. spacecraft GNC and robotic arm and system overall modelling/dynamic characterization requiring multi-body models. The consortium consisted of GMV(ES), CBK(PL) and TSD(IT).