News


EtherCAT takes off in space industry

January 2023 News Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

The euphoria in the industry was palpable when more than 1100 specialists in space technology gathered in Las Vegas at the end of October for the ASCEND conference of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA): spaceflight is in the midst of a transformation from government-funded research and national prestige projects into a commercially successful field of business.

Both well-established and start-up companies in the ‘New Space’ movement continue to gain ground accordingly. And with NASA’s new research and exploration goals, industry momentum is accelerating. After all, the space agency’s large-scale ‘back to the moon and then further’ projects are expanding the industry’s focus from near-Earth orbits to cislunar space: the area between geostationary orbit and the orbit of the moon.

The presentations and panel discussions at ASCEND covered the entire field of modern space activities – from deep-dive technical presentations to concepts on building a global rescue system for space travellers, and even a space police force. After all, some visionaries are already planning space colonies for thousands of people, and there must be the appropriate infrastructure and legal framework to go along with it.

In the thick of technological developments for space is EtherCAT. The EtherCAT Technology Group’s (ETG) executive director, Martin Rostan (an aerospace engineer by education), presented a new paper at the conference titled ‘Advancing Space Robotics with the EtherCAT Communication Standard’. This paper was developed together with Dr Gerhard Grunwald from the DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, and Chris Thayer, the CEO of Motiv Space Systems.

Thayer commented during the ASCEND conference: “Computing power is a coveted and very expensive commodity in space: only a few space-qualified systems can handle the computationally intensive needs of advanced robotics. It helps us enormously that EtherCAT requires hardly any resources from the controller; neither computing power nor special hardware. This makes our space robotics much easier to integrate into other systems.”

The DLR Institute was among the first in the industry to recognise that bus systems developed specifically for space applications were too expensive and made them dependent on just a few suppliers. As early as 2004, the DLR selected EtherCAT as the ideal technology for space robotics in a research project, and has since relied on this communication standard which is also the leading network for industrial robots. Now, EtherCAT is also establishing itself as the de facto standard for space robotics.

EtherCAT will not only be used in NASA’s Lunar Gateway but is already being used in many other high-profile space projects. This acceptance radiates into other industries: “What’s good enough for NASA, is good enough for me.” Martin Rostan has heard this validation many times from ETG members and EtherCAT users.

More than 250 ETG member companies are active in the aerospace and New Space industries.




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Moore Process Controls is moving ahead
Moore Process Controls News
Moore Process Controls was established in South Africa in 1985, migrating from a local agent for Moore Products in the USA to a multi-faceted company with a wide range of automation and optimisation capabilities.

Read more...
BMG’s machine tools on show at Machine Tools Africa
Bearing Man Group t/a BMG News
BMG will be participating at the Machine Tools Africa exhibition. Its stand will showcase the company’s comprehensive range of quality branded tools and equipment, which has been carefully selected by specialists, to meet the exact requirements of customers in diverse sectors.

Read more...
Enlit Africa reimagines energy security in Africa
News
The prestigious Enlit Africa 2024 exhibition has the goal of addressing the very real energy security concerns felt by companies across Africa.

Read more...
From the editor's desk: The digital deluge
Technews Publishing (SA Instrumentation & Control) News
One of the issues arising out of our newfound ability to generate our own electricity is the ability to store it. BESS systems are the order of the day, and we regularly run stories on this new development. ...

Read more...
Turck Banner welcomes Ivan De Waal as new managing director
Turck Banner Southern Africa News
Turck Banner Southern Africa is pleased to announce the appointment of Ivan De Waal as its new managing director.

Read more...
University of Pretoria unveils immersive technology laboratory
News
The University of Pretoria’s faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology is proud to announce the launch of its new Immersive Technology Lab at the Department of Information Science. This cutting-edge facility marks a significant milestone in the university’s journey towards integrating advanced immersive technologies into its curriculum and research initiatives.

Read more...
IS3 X-Change 2024 conference
News
X-Change is an annual gathering of tech enthusiasts, industry leaders and visionaries pushing the boundaries of innovation. Join IS3 for an immersive experience that celebrates the latest in technology and fosters networking opportunities, and discover how your organisation can benefit from AVEVA software and the IS3 industry solution partner ecosystem.

Read more...
Exploring the role of AI in recruitment
News
In an era defined by rapid technological advancements, the integration of AI is proving to be transformative across various industries. Thankfully, and in contradiction to what many people believe, AI enhances many functions, rather than replacing real people.

Read more...
Celebrating three decades of innovation in Africa's premier industrial software conference
News
With a rich 29-year history, the X-Change User Conference stands as Africa's largest and most prestigious annual gathering dedicated to industrial software and related technology. Hosted by Industry Software Solutions & Support (IS3), this year, X-Change 2024 promises to be even more impactful as it celebrates three decades of innovation and collaboration.

Read more...
4Sight OT Automation achieves prestigious AVEVA Endorsed Partner status
News
4Sight OT Automation, a leading industrial software solutions provider, has achieved Endorsed Partner status within the AVEVA Partner Network.

Read more...