Japanese-German cooperation for a flawless rendezvous in space

To enable a safe and secure approach to any object in space, high-performance navigation sensors are required. The Jena-Optronik Rendezvous and Docking Sensor (RVS) is the most frequently used LIDAR sensor for docking to the International Space Station ISS. Up to now, a total of over 40 sensors have been delivered to customers in the United States, Japan and Europe. More than 30 flight models have been used in orbit delivering a flawless and fully reliable performance during five ATV dockings, six Cygnus missions, and five HTV berthings.


The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is an automated cargo spacecraft operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Jena-Optronik supplies the RVS for the HTV.


“Since 2009 each HTV has two Rendezvous and Docking Sensors on board, which guide the transfer vehicle safely towards the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), known as Canadarm2”, explains Dr. Florian Kolb, Director LIDAR Products at Jena-Optronik. “The Japanese HTV is a valuable contribution to sustain manned space flight. The next and sixth HTV is scheduled for launch in a few months and it has a special task: HTV-6 is carrying a Li-ion battery to enlarge the lifetime of the ISS.”


Until 2020, two additional missions are planned to supply the ISS with 4.5 tons of essential cargo each and they will be also equipped with the RVS.


Hans Knut Raue, Head of Sales at Jena-Optronik underlines the importance of the HTV for the Jena-based company: “The cooperation with the Japanese space community has been the key factor to make Jena-Optronik’ RVS the leading rendezvous & docking sensor in the market. Japanese engineering is known in the world for setting the highest standards. This rigor has greatly contributed to the 100% mission success of RVS.”


Based on the RVS success story, Jena-Optronik is developing the next generation of Rendezvous and Docking Sensors. The new RVS3000 3D-LIDAR builds on the experience gained during RVS development, manufacturing, test, and operation.


At the upcoming Japan Aerospace Exhibition in Tokyo, the next generation rendezvous & docking sensor RVS3000 will be officially presented for the first time to the Japanese space community. RVS3000 enhances the technical features of the previous generation in particular regarding extended range, reduced envelope, reduced mass, and reduced power consumption. The cost advantage for the customer makes the RVS3000 also economically a very attractive choice. On the occasion of the Japan Aerospace Exhibition, Jena-Optronik would like to promote the new RVS3000 as an attractive solution for a future generation HTV.

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