SROC (Space Rider Observer Cube) is an ESA technology demonstration mission carried out by a CubeSat that will be deployed from Space Rider, perform an inspection phase, and rendezvous and dock with a dedicated retrieval mechanism hosted in the Space Rider cargo bay. To this aim SROC will allow the development and in-orbit demonstration of critical technologies and capabilities for small-satellite proximity operations, with a particular focus on propulsion, GNC, and docking/retrieval mechanisms.
The development of these capabilities could eventually enable new applications for small satellites and CubeSats, such as in-orbit servicing, inspection and active debris removal, not only in LEO but also for deep space flying objects.
The SROC spacecraft consists of a single 12 U CubeSat equipped with cameras operating in the visible and infrared spectrum. It has a LIDAR on board to support the close-range approach and docking phases of the mission. A dedicated multi-purpose CubeSat deployer, developed as part of the mission, will enable the deployment, docking and safe retrieval of SROC, for a return to Earth within the Space Rider cargo bay.
Thanks to ESA/GSTP Fly programme, Italy takes part in all aspects of the project, with a consortium currently consisting of Politecnico di Torino, Tyvak International s.r.l. and University of Padua.