Astrium, ESA Solar Satellite Deal a Major Win for U.K. Space Industry
[Satellite TODAY 04-30-12] Astrium U.K. has won a 300 million euro ($397.8 million) contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the Solar Orbiter satellite at its facilities in Stevenage, United Kingdom, Astrium confirmed April 27.
The Solar Orbiter satellite will travel closer to the Sun than any spacecraft to date after it is launched in 2017. Its mission will include taking pictures and measurements from inside Mercury’s orbit in order to gain new insights on the Sun’s dynamic behavior.
Astrium said the satellite’s 42 million-kilometer proximity from the Sun’s surface will require the spacecraft to carry a robust shield.
“Heat will be a huge problem,” Astrium U.K. Head of Science Ralph Cordey said in a statement. “If it were not protected, the face of the spacecraft would get as hot as 500 degrees, which would be disastrous. We will use a thick heat shield to reduce the temperature within the spacecraft and its systems down to about room temperature so that all the electronics can operate comfortably."