The Demise Observation Capsule (DOC) is developed and qualified for the European Space Agency (ESA).

With the DOC, the operator can collect important information about the re-entry processes of launcher stages. It works as a data-recorder that will collect important flight and environmental data that is needed to gain a better understanding in the physics and engineering of the re-entry process. Until this date, the re-entry process is still not completely known, which makes it difficult to engineer launcher stages that completely disintegrate during their re-entry. The analysis of the re-entry data about objects re-entering the atmosphere will help in accurately predicting break-up altitudes, debris trajectories and ground impact footprint. These analyses are therefore critical not only to mission success, but more importantly for improving public safety aspects of such re-entry scenarios.

The ESA Demise Observation Capsule (DOC) mission consists of a capsule that is mounted on a Launcher Upper Stage. After the final stage separation, the capsule activates itself and starts the measurement campaign.

The capsule will measure GPS, velocity, acceleration, pressure, and temperature. It will also accommodate a camera, which will capture the entire descent. The capsule will relay all the data through a satellite to a ground station.

GomSpace designs and delivers the avionics and sensors for the module.

Capsule capabilities

  • Independent re-entry capsule qualified to 'rideshare' with no impact on launcher payloads or operation
  • Robust, modular design for the 3rd / 4th stages of a multitude of launch vehicles
  • Miniaturised sensors and electronics in a versatile and extendable sensor suite
  • Full nano-satellite capabilities
  • Observation cameras on host vehicle and capsule
  • Onboard software for autonomous mission performance and in-flight data transfer
  • Safe and controlled stage separation after passivation
  • ITAR-free equipment

DOC Applications

The DOC technology and product is able to be applied to a broad range of other applications and customer needs. The following are just a few examples:

  • A space and re-entry observation platform
  • Re-entry Testbed
  • Planetary re-entry science probe
  • Material/Equipment and Code Qualification
  • Cube-sat demonstration and recovery
  • Clean space support
  • Re-entry trajectory analysis
  • Training for recovery missions
  • Sample return missions

A new perspective on re-entry 

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