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PERSEUS’s three main objectives are to:
- seek innovations and develop promising technologies applicable to space transportation systems
- give students the opportunity, at university or through volunteer associations, to pursue educational projects likely to motivate them to take up careers in space;
- produce a set of ground and flight demonstrators to serve as the basis for a detailed preliminary design of a system capable of launching nanosatellites (10 to 50 kg).
Launched in June 2005 at the Paris Air Show, PERSEUS has since enjoyed an enthusiastic response from many student teams at engineering schools, universities and technical institutes. They are supervised by educators and assisted by recognized experts at CNES and members of science outreach associations.
The student projects develop demonstrators that are often operated by the motivated and enthusiastic young members of student aerospace associations like Scube at the ISAE aeronautics and space institute, ISS at the IPSA aerospace engineering school, Octave at Every Val d’Essonne University (UEVE), CLC at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon and SATURN at Rennes-1 University.
Coordination, leadership and supervision of this programme are assured by CNES through a special unit at UEVE, in partnership with Bertin Technologies, ASL (ex-Herakles), MI-GSO, the French aerospace research agency ONERA and Roxel France for industrial aspects, and AJSEP, GAREF and Planète Sciences for association aspects. IPSA, ISAE and UEVE are also the programme’s university partners. These programme partnerships are governed by framework agreements renewed early in 2015.
To make it easier to accommodate student projects, PERSEUS follows the school calendar and organizes two key events during the year: a seminar in winter and launch campaigns in France, Sweden or the Netherlands.
Like actual operational launch vehicles, PERSEUS launchers employ propulsion, structural, aerodynamic and other subsystems, for which macro-projects have been set up and software systems developed to define ground technology demonstrators.
System demonstrators are also flight-tested, like for example the EOLE-DSL-ARES composite to test separation of a rocket from a winged carrier, SERA experimental rockets launched from Kiruna, Sweden, to test performance at supersonic regimes, and more recently a reusable vertical take-off, vertical landing (VTVL) stage.