26th May, 2021
Elecnor Deimos has been selected in a competitive tender by Thales Alenia Space in the UK to do the complete design of the B2 probe of the Comet Interceptor mission. The activity is being carried out by the Satellite Systems team at Deimos’ satellite integration facilities in Puertollano, Spain.
The Comet Interceptor mission, whose concept was initially proposed by an international consortium led by the University College London, UK, was selected by ESA in 2019 as the new fast-class mission in its Cosmic Vision Programme. It will combine breakthrough technology in new comet discoveries to reveal information about pristine comets entering the inner Solar System.
The mission is composed by a mothercraft, provided and operated by ESA, and two small probes, B1 provided by the Japanese Space Agency JAXA and B2 by ESA, carried as payloads aboard the mothercraft. Each component will be equipped with science instruments developed by several international research institutions, providing different perspectives of the comet and its coma.
At this stage, DEIMOS will be performing the studies to define the best design for the B2 probe in terms of cost, schedule, performance and reliability, involving an interdisciplinary team to analyse the scientific, mechanical, electrical, thermal and communication requirements of the spacecraft. Thales Alenia Space in the UK, who leads one the two ESA parallel studies for the detailed design of the mission, is responsible for the complete spacecraft design, as well as detailed preparation for a Phase 2 development that would include the assembly, integration and test of the space segment, the support for launch operations and commissioning in orbit.
‘This is an activity that really confirms Deimos capacity in the field of detailed spacecraft design, and we are very proud to join this particular mission, the first to intercept an object that never entered the solar system’, says Inmaculada Serrano-Gandia, Deimos Director of Satellite Systems. ‘We are fully committed to a fruitful cooperation with Thales Alenia Space in the UK to ensure the complete success of this study and we hope for the subsequent phases of the mission’
Andrew Stanniland, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in the UK, commented: “Comet Interceptor remains one of the most exciting missions we have ever worked on. I am really looking forward to our team establishing a close working relationship with Elecnor Deimos on this unprecedented scientific mission to uncover more information about the origins of our Solar System”.
Comet Interceptor is foreseen for launch as co-passenger with ESA’s exoplanet-studying ARIEL spacecraft in 2028. Both missions will be delivered to L2 and from there Comet Interceptor will journey onwards to the chosen target using its own propulsion system.
About Comet Interceptor
Comet Interceptor is a ‘fast’, or F-class mission. The ‘fast’ refers to the implementation time, with a total development duration from selection to launch readiness of about eight years. F-class missions, which have a launch mass of less than 1000 kg, will share the ride into space with a medium-class mission, taking advantage of additional space in the launcher and the boost to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2, which is 1.5 million kilometres ‘behind’ Earth as viewed from the Sun.
Artistic impression of Comet Interceptor
Credits: Thales Alenia Space