Test and Validation Environments

Validation is a particular challenge for autonomous optical navigation and HDA landing systems. This validation must guarantee the system can operate autonomously in real time and is robust enough to respond to a specified envelope of dynamical, environmental, and lighting conditions. However, these systems operate in a dynamic environment that is difficult to emulate on Earth. NGC owns and operates a suite of software and laboratory test facilities critical for the development and validation of space exploration GNC systems.


The ability to perform autonomous Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA) and precision landing activities are some of the most challenging requirements for future planetary exploration missions.

High-Fidelity Engineering Simulators

In order to verify and validate autonomous flight software prior to launch, NGC provides a closed-loop high-fidelity software simulation environment, including:

  • Sensor models
  • Camera, radar and Lidar models interacting with a terrain topography model
  • Thruster models
  • Lander dynamics
  • Moon environment

The simulation environment is applicable to the cruise, orbit or descent and landing phases. An extensive library of simulation models and mathematical functions is available. The simulator can perform end-to-end simulations including the generation of synthetic images and Lidar scans consistent with the lander trajectory and the terrain model.

Landing Dynamic Test Facility

NGC operates its Landing Dynamic Test Facility (LDTF), which bridges the gap between software simulations and expensive full-scale testing. The facility reproduces scaled closed-loop orbit or descent and landing trajectories in real time in order to conduct Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) GNC system integration and demonstration.

NGC’s Landing Dynamic Test Facility (LDTF)

This facility is specifically designed for the testing of camera-based and Lidar-based systems. It includes:

  • Robot motion system
  • Processing infrastructure emulating real-world dynamics
  • Surface mock-ups
  • Lighting system

Two different surface mock-ups are available depending on the geometry of the test trajectory. High-resolution ground truths are available for both surface mock-ups.

Surface Mock-Up (2.4 m x 3.5 m)

Moon Surface Mock-Up (3.6 m x 15.8 m)

Drone Platforms

NGC also operates a fleet of small drones used to reproduce full-scale landing trajectories. This infrastructure enables real-time Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) demonstrations with a small payload of up to 5 kg. This infrastructure is particularly relevant for HIL demonstration of systems faced with scaling limitations, such as Lidar-based systems.


Guidance, Navigation and Control


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.