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Airbus Builds SMILE Satellite for ESA

By | July 31, 2019
Artist rendition of the SMILE satellite in orbit. Photo: ESA

Artist rendition of the SMILE satellite in orbit. Photo: ESA

Airbus was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the European component of the Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) satellite. SMILE will be the first joint satellite mission between the ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), following on from the success of the Double Star/Tan Ce mission which flew between 2003 and 2008.

The objective of SMILE is to study and understand space weather. Specifically, it will look at the physics behind continuous interaction between particles in the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere, the magnetic shield that protects the existence of life in our planet. The mission is now entering a four year period of manufacturing, testing, and integration of the payload module and the platform. In launch configuration these two components will form a 3.15-meter-high stack. The payload module will be built at the Airbus site in Madrid, where the instruments will be integrated. The platform will be built in Shanghai. Both the payload module and the platform will be integrated and tested at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center facilities.

“Today, we are able to predict the weather on Earth, now it’s SMILE’s turn to help us understand space weather around the Earth and who knows…, probably one day, we will have enough data to be able to forecast dangerous solar storms that could disrupt our systems in space and on the ground,” said Fernando Varela, Head of Airbus Space Systems in Spain. “We thank the Spanish Administration for their decisive and continued support to scientific missions.”