AI to navigate space exploration in new innovation partnership

A new Swedish research partnership will develop game-changing AI-technology for space exploration. The partnership between Luleå University of Technology and OHB Sweden is the latest of 13 new space research and development partnerships launched by RIT2021.

Robotics x space engineering

Space organizations around the world are in a race to develop a technology that makes it viable to send missions to small space objects like asteroids and comets. These objects provide scientists important facts about the origins of life on Earth. They also hold precious metals like iron, gold and platinum that could be used for space construction or be brought back to Earth. The current technology makes it difficult and unprecise to explore small space objects – and therefore unviable as space missions. Something Avijit Banerjee, George Nikolakopoulos at Luleå University of Technology and Per Bodin at OHB Sweden are hoping to change by developing autonomous navigation systems based on artificial intelligence.

Launched by RIT2021

The new research project is funded by RIT2021, a multi-layered injection into the space ecosystem encompassing a budget of 5.6 million Euro. A key focus in RIT2021 is to drive innovation by increasing industry-academia partnerships in research and development. Thus far, RIT2021 has successfully launched 13 such joint collaborations between Luleå University of Technology and space industry partners since 2015. Johanna Bergström-Roos, space specialist and senior project manager at LTU Business runs the EU-funded project, which is a partnership between 12 organisations. She points out that partnerships like these are essential for innovation because their outset and focus create unique benefits.

“The industry gains strategic insights that are important for the future, while academia gets unique opportunities and resources for research. Meanwhile, the very projects themselves job growth and create career opportunities that benefit individuals as well as employers”, says space specialist Johanna.

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RIT2021 is a regional development project in operation 2019-2021, aiming to boost innovation and cooperation in the space sector. RIT2021 is operated by Luleå University of Technology, LTU Business, The Swedish Institute for Space Physics, Arctic Business and ESA BIC Sweden, with support from SSC – Swedish Space Corporation, OHB Sweden, GKN Aerospace, Region Norrbotten, Luleå Municipality, Kiruna Municipality, Sparbanken Nord & EU. More info on

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