Sensors guide Jules Verne

Cheltenham-based e2v’s image sensors helped guide the European Space Agency’s Jules Verne spacecraft in to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) last week.

The Jules Verne, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle sent to the ISS, is the most powerful automatic spacecraft ever built and has its own propulsion and high-precision navigation system to automatically guide it into dock at the ISS.

The CCD47-20 sensors, selected by EADS SODERN, are part of two key systems developed for the spacecraft. The first is a SED16 star tracker, an optical device used to determine the orientation of the spacecraft by measuring its position relative to the stars. The second is a Videometer, a primary docking sensor for the spacecraft.

The spacecraft is essential for delivering supplies including equipment, spare parts, food, air and water to permanent crew. It will also attach itself to the station and provide reboost and attitude control for up to six months. The Jules Verne was carried into orbit from a launch site at French Guiana and hauled almost seven tonnes of cargo to the station 400km above the Earth.

e2V aerospace general manager Brian McAllistor said: ‘We are pleased to deliver imaging sensors for the navigation and docking which directly enabled the successful delivery of supplies to the International Space Station.’