Astrium Wins ACES Deal With ESA

[Satellite TODAY 07-20-10]  The European Space Agency (ESA) has contracted Astrium to develop the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) for the International Space Station (ISS), the company announced July 19th.
    The 35 million euro ($45.2 million) contract will see Astrium deliver the ACES payload for its scheduled launch on a Japanese HTV transport vehicle in fall 2013 with an on-orbit accommodation on the Columbus External Payload Facility. The duration of the mission will be at least two years.
    The contract comprises the development of the ACES Flight Model, the set-up of the ACES specific ground segment, the establishment of a network of ground reference clocks and communication with the ISS-based ACES payload and its two atomic clocks via microwave-link ground terminals.
    The ACES payload will test a new generation of atomic clocks in space. The Caesium cold atom clock PHARAO, developed and provided by CNES, and the Space Hydrogen Maser (SHM), funded through the Swiss contribution to ELIPS (European Life and Physical Sciences Program), are the heart of the ACES payload. They will be characterized and compared to each other as well as to ground based national time standards in different countries.

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