As a subcontractor to QinetiQ Space, NGC developed, implemented and validated the autonomous attitude and orbit GNC software for the PROBA-V spacecraft.

Image : PROBA-V Spacecraft (courtesy of ESA)

PROBA-V (meaning PROBA-Vegetation) launched in 2013, extended the data collection from the Vegetation Instruments onboard the SPOT-4 and SPOT-5 satellites. Every second day, its three multi-spectral imaging telescopes cover the complete landmass of the Earth, gathering detailed information on the health of our planet, on its climate and on its vegetation. The vast amount of data gathered over the satellite’s lifetime serves to monitor of surface water, agricultural land, desertification and deforestation with the objective of securing the supply of food for future generations.

The 140-kg satellite, not larger than a cubic metre, is operated from a 820-km high, Sun-synchronous orbit that maintains a constant orientation with respect to the Sun, thus ensuring high-quality images. The multi-spectral cameras operate at a 100 m resolution with a 2250 km push-broom swath.

The novel features included in the PROBA-V AOCS software compared to PROBA-1 and PROBA-2 include:

  • high-efficiency prediction of sea and land flybys for autonomous onboard activation/deactivation of the payload over land/sea
  • autonomous optimal Sun pointing manoeuvre
  • autonomous geodetic pointing with optional yaw steering
  • avoidance of reaction-wheel speed crossing zero during imaging using only 3 reaction wheels
  • autonomous avoidance of forbidden attitude during large angle manoeuvres
  • three-axis pointing magnetic safe mode

See PROBA-V 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.