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French navigation systems developer iXblue, in partnership with Safran Data System and on behalf of the Centre National d’Études Spatial (CNES), has developed the inertial navigation system (INS) for the Kit Autonome de Sécurité pour la SAuvergarde en Vol (KASSAV 1), an autonomous safety system designed to increase performance of the current in-flight localisation system for European rockets launched from the European Space Port in French Guyana.

Based on hybrid technology, KASSAV 1 uses data fusion from the iXblue-designed inertial measurement unit (IMU) and a GNSS sensor. The system was successfully used for the first time during the ARIANE 5 launch on 15 August and has enabled CNES to track the launcher autonomously and very precisely at all times.

iXblue has 20 years’ experience in the space market, with ASTRIX, its fibre-optic gyroscope (FOG) installed on over 25 satellites. Within a record period of of 18 months, iXblue developed a system able to maintain performance within the launcher’s extreme environments.

One of the biggest challenges was to create a system able to resist vibrations and shock while maintaining performance. In addition to this ability, it was designed to withstand vacuum and important temperature variations. The environment for ARIANE rockets is exceptionally aggressive, and the KASSAV 1 project demonstrates how robust the FOG technology and iXblue systems actually are,” commented Manager for Space Activities at iXblue, Guillaume Lecamp.

An ARIANE 5 ECA successfully launched three communications satellites into geostationary orbits on 15 August, marking the first operational use of the KASSAV 1 safety system featuring an iXblue INS. (Photo courtesy Arianespace)

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