NGC Aerospace has pioneered a new paradigm in both the design and the operation of spacecraft, starting with the PROBA-1 spacecraft launched in 2001 and still successfully operating today for an extended mission well beyond the design lifetime of 2 years.

Image : NGC’s AOCS software autonomously controls the PROBA-1 satellite orientation to take images

NGC was Verhaert Space’s (now QinetiQ Space) subcontractor for the development, implementation and validation of the autonomous attitude and orbit GNC software of the highly-autonomous and agile PROBA-1 spacecraft. PROBA-1 was the first European spacecraft with fully autonomous operations with little involvement from the ground control station. Also a first in the ESA context, the GNC flight software contributed by NGC was entirely designed, developed and validated using computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools, including the automatic generation of the flight code.

The novel features contributed by NGC with the PROBA-1 spacecraft GNC software include but are not limited to:

  • Gyro-less autonomous attitude determination with sensor delay recovery
  • Autonomous orbit determination with sensor delay recovery
  • Prediction of orbital events (e.g. eclipse entry/exit)
  • Prediction of target and ground station flybys over the next 24 hours
  • Onboard generation of commanded attitude profiles including during imaging which requires taking 5 scans of the same target region at 1/5 of the nominal push-broom speed
  • Pointing to Earth and Sun without Earth and Sun sensors
  • Autonomous management of the total spacecraft angular momentum


See PROBA-1 page on ESA website for additional details on the mission.


When you work with us, you’ll find we are very flexible when it comes to finding ways to integrate our technology into your project. We also provide in-depth training and the support of one of the most experienced Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) systems teams in the world.