Available Technology

Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)

Common Modular Avionics System for Nano-Launchers offering affordable access to space
Significant contributors to the cost of launching nano-satellites to orbit are the software, and Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) avionics systems that steer and control the launch vehicles, sequence stage separation, deploy payloads, and telemeter data. The high costs of these GNC avionics systems are due in part to the current practice of developing unique, single-use hardware and software for each launch. NASA Ames Research Center has developed and tested a low-cost avionics system prototype called Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA). AVA includes a common suite of GNC functionality paired with advanced software package for space launch vehicle in a package smaller than a tissue box (100 mm x 120 mm x 69 mm; 4in x 4.7in x 2.7in), and with a mass of less than 0.84kg (2lbs). The invention provides a common suite of avionics and software that deliver affordable, capable GNC and telemetry avionics with application to multiple nano-launch vehicles at 1 percent the cost of current state-of-the-art avionics. Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVAs) approach to drastically reduce costs includes: use of low-cost Commercial-off-the-Shelf Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) inertial measurement unit sensors; increased navigation precision by fusing Global Positioning System and magnetometry with novel extended Kalman filter propagation; a streamlined cookbook approach to launch vehicle developers for integration and tests, via high-fidelity six degrees of freedom rocket models; and validating navigation and control on early test flights.
Patent Abstract: 
NASA Ames Research Center has developed a novel low-cost self-contained guidance system for small payload operators. Small satellites are becoming ever more capable of performing valuable missions for both government and commercial customers. However, currently these satellites can only be launched affordably as secondary payloads which makes it difficult for the small satellite mission to launch when needed, to the desired orbit, and with acceptable risk. NASAs Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA) technology offers access to space for small payloads operators with an ability to have their own dedicated launch to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), when and where they need. AVA demonstrates a self-contained guidance system that can be integrated and operated at a fraction of the recurring costs of existing units.

Small and light-weight


Nano-launch industry for deploying smallsats

Small-satellite industry for - imaging, communications, and remote sensing

Commercial "nanolaunch" vehicle developers

Space industry

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
December 14, 2017
Far West
Lab Representatives
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