Our Space team will be welcoming guests to the QinetiQ stand, A90, at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 26 to 30 September 2016. Will you be there? Here are just some of the topics you may want to ask us about:
Building the Proba satellites for the European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA’s Proba series of small satellites, built by QinetiQ, celebrated a milestone in August 2016, reaching a combined 25 years in orbit. Since Proba-1 launched in 2001 as a demonstrator of autonomous systems, two further satellites have embarked upon new missions. Proba-2 entered orbit in 2009, monitoring space weather and capturing unique images of the sun. Since 2013, Proba-V has monitored Earth’s vegetation and ecosystems.
The Proba-3 mission, scheduled for launch in 2019, will see two small satellites orbit Earth in close formation, positioning a camera 150m behind a coronagraph to capture images of the sun’s corona.
P200 satellite listed in NASA’s Rapid Spacecraft Development Office (RSDO) catalogue
The latest in the evolution of the Proba series, QinetiQ’s P200 satellite has recently been listed in the RSDO catalogue published by NASA, which expedites procurement of spacecraft by US federal agencies and their affiliates.
The highly autonomous P200 is capable of supporting payloads up to 70kg and targets spacecraft mass less than 200kg, making it compatible with typical shared launch opportunities and small satellite launchers.
QinetiQ Ion Thrusters fitted to BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module
QinetiQ’s T6 ion thrusters have been fitted to ESA’s Mercury Transfer Module, which will carry European and Japanese orbiters to Mercury during the BepiColombo mission, due for launch in 2018. The T6 engines are a development from the smaller T5 used by ESA on the successful GOCE mission.
The thrusters have been put through rigorous test campaigns in QinetiQ’s vacuum facilities, simulating the extreme thermal environment experienced during the seven-year flight time. During the mission the thrusters will accumulate a total ‘on’ time of 20,000 hours, or 2.5 years.
Selectable Optical Diagnostics Instrument (SODI) installed on International Space Station
SODI is a modular science station on board the ISS, supporting studies in the field of fundamental fluid physics. Designed and build by QinetiQ Space and delivered in 2009, SODI had an initial design life of three years, but is still operational seven years later in 2016. New cell arrays – cartridges comprising cells filled with liquids for experimentation – are periodically delivered to the ISS, with the latest one installed just this month.
The cell arrays are manufactured to extremely high safety standards to ensure their contents cannot create hazards for the crew. They are low-mass, largely autonomous once installed, and designed for ease of use by international teams. The data gathered has important applications on Earth, such as improving understanding of convection to increase extraction rates from oil wells, and investigating the formation of crystals that could be used as transistors in supercomputers.
QinetiQ communications technology to link ExoMars with Earth
The European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission will arrive at the Red Planet next month after a seven-month journey from Earth. When it gets there, communications technology from QinetiQ will link the two worlds.
Three days before arrival, the ExoMars craft will split in two, with the Schiaparelli lander heading for the surface and a satellite entering orbit.
Using QinetiQ’s UHF transceiver, the lander will transmit data from the planet’s surface to Earth via the orbiter for between two to four days. The project will pave the way for a second ExoMars mission in 2018, in which a rover will spend six months analysing Mars’s environment for signs of life.
If you would like to know more, please visit us at the QinetiQ stand, A90, at the International Astronautical Congress. See you there!