BIRDY technology for autonomous navigation

BIRDY offers electric propulsion navigation technology for future deep-space CubeSats. On the ground, the trajectory predicted by a trajectory calculator. In flight, the deviation from this prediction trajectory is measured by optical triangulation and trajectory corrections are made by a liquid Teflon-based electric propulsion currently existing with a TRL 3. This propulsion is the subject of a current PSL PhD thesis research, as well as of an industrial development. The flight trajectory determination algorithm is functional, but is still too sensitive to measurement errors. Scientific applications are already being identified in space meteorology (Earth-Mars cruise), or in planetary geodesy (double asteroid survey) and would justify such autonomous navigation. The technology would be validated in a GTO orbit. Other contexts are also envisaged (Earth-Moon paths or HEO orbits).

The project is led by teams at IMCCE, LESIA and the Taiwanese NCKU since 2013. The OSAE master programme, Centrale Lille and Centrale Paris are also involved. A total of 53 students were involved by mid-2016. Testing and development environment were provided through ESEP. Five long-term internships, conference trips and trips to Taiwan as well as several laboratory experts were also supported through ESEP.

Contact : Boris.Segret @

For 2016-2017 : 1 - 2 long project modules (1-2 years), 1 - 2 long courses (4-6 months) in system and orbitography

(Earth-Mars trajectory ; LPPT propulsion(5cm x 10cm x 10cm) ; « flying-legs » around asteroid Didymos)