[15.08.2018]

Today, starting 18:00 CEST/German time, the ICARUS antenna will be installed outside the service Module Zvezda by the russian Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev. The Extra-Vehicular Activity wll be coverd live by NASA TV under:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public (starting 17:00 CEST/German time)

With 5-7 hours, this is one of the longest EVAs ever performed by russia. After the final system level tests, the payload is planned to be fully operational at the beginning of Autumn.

ICARUS payload is designed to receive science information from miniaturized devices attached to animals, known as tags, and send reconfiguration commands if needed. The hardware on the ISS is designed to communicate with more than 100 tags simultaneously, providing the capability of daily communication with thousands of devices around the Globe.

SpaceTech GmbH has developed, manufactured and tested the ICARUS payload over the last 4 years as leader of a team of German SMEs. The project was commissioned by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and is funded by the German Space Agency DLR in cooperation with Roscosmos.

 

 

 

 

[04.07.2018]

We are proud to announce that with the activation of the Laser ranging interferometer (LRI) on GRACE Follow-On on June 13th 2018, the first optical instrument flight hardware of SpaceTech is fully operational in orbit! This is a major milestone for our activities in the field of laser-optical intrumentation and proof of STIs capabilities to provide top notch optical instrument equipment.

The LRI measures the changes of the inter-satellite distance of the two GRACE FO satellites flying in approx. 220 km distance to each with unprecedented accuracy down to several ten nanometers (about 1/1000th of the thickness of a human hair).

Under contract to the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ) (and under the scientific lead of Albert Einstein Institute Hannover - AEI) SpaceTech signed responsible for the development of the optical bench, the retroflector, and the instrument baffles of the LRI, starting from prototypes to EM, QM and FMs for both satellites. On the German side, the photoreceivers of the optical bench were provided by DLR Institute for optical systems in Berlin, while STI subcontracted Airbus DS and Hensoldt Optronics for the steering mirror on the optical bench and the manufacturing and assembly of the Zerodur parts of the retroreflector . On the US side we had a close cooperation with JPL who where responsible for the mission and provided the US part of the LRI (the laser, the cavity & the phasemeter).

Optische Bank 2       Retroreflektor 2

The optical bench (shown above), consisting of an titanium optical bench with integrated and attached high performance laser optics, receives the laser signal via an optical fiber interface, launches the beam out of the fiber into free space, shapes it and directs it to µrad accuracy to the second spacecraft by means of a fine steering mirror. In addition it receives the laser signal from the second spacecraft and superimposes it with the local signal onto quadrant photoreceivers to aqcuire the DWS and heterodynes signal for the ranging measurement.  Main challenges in the development were the high wavefront planarity requirement of lambda/12 (pv), the beam alignment error of less than 10 µrad and the ranging noise contribution of less than 5 nm/sqrt(Hz). To achieve this a low thermal noise, low mechanical stress, highly stable optical bench design was developed, including a newly designed ultra-stable monolithic beam collimator, which is now available for further applications.

The retroreflector (shown above) , consisting of an ultra-stable carbon-fiber structure with attached zerodur optics, routes the laser beam around the center of mass of the respective spacecraft, essential to achieve Nanometer accuracy to the ranging measurement. Main challenges of this development were the limited available space in the satellite in conjuction with the demanding mirror alignment error of less than 40 µrad, less than 400 nm/K vertex stability and less than lambda/15 wavefront planarity(pv). 

A first evaluation of the measurement of the laser ranging interferometer is shown in the picture below

First Light LRI Measurement

Top: Ranging data taken by the GRACE Follow-On Laser Ranging Interferometer as it flew over the Himalayas. Middle and bottom: The topography beneath the satellite tandem.[less]

With this result, GRACE Follow-On is expected to continue the GRACE success story and provide measurements of the first inter-satellite laser interferometer, which may also be seen as a LISA technology pathfinder. For STI, being responsible for the German contribution to the laser ranging interferometer, this is the first laser-optical equipment in space, along with other equipment provided by us.

In addition the the contribution to the LRI equipment, STI has been  responsible for:

  • the LRI instrument integration @ STI facitlities in cooperation with JPL, DLR Bremen, Airbus DS and AEI
  • the spacecraft primary structures (structural analysis and procurement)
  • the ASTSS tertiary structure (manufactured by CST)
  • the deployable S-Band boom
  • the Coarse Earth-Sun-Sensors (CESS)
  • the satellite MGSE & transport containers

We did this in contract to the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ) for the LRI  (and under the scientific lead of Albert Einstein Institute Hannover - AEI) and in subcontract to Airbus DS for the other contributions and in close cooperation with our collegues at JPL, the DLR Institutes in Bremen and Berlin Adlershof as well as Hensoldt Optronics.

STI is proud to be part of this mission and thankful for the great cooperation of all project partners!

Much more information on GRACE Follow-On can be found here:

[22.5.2018]

  134 G FO launch burn1200      2018 05 21 GFO Launch Live Stream

Left; Launch [Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls] ; Right:Artists Impression of GRACE Follow-On [Credit:NASA]

6 years after project start (and many more after first discussions on the successor to the GRACE mission), the US-German Gravity mission GRACE Follow-On has successfuly launched yesterday 12:49 PST, in perfect weather with a beautiful blue sky, the two Grace Follow-On Satellites launched onboard of a Falcon 9, together with 5 Iridium Satellites.

Everything is looking good. There have be no issue before or during the launch, the satellites deployed as planned and telemetry shows both satellites are healthy. The instruments will be put into operation over the next weeks.

GRACE Follow-On will continue the GRACE success story and flies the first inter-satellite laser interferometer, which may also be seen as a LISA technology pathfinder. For STI, being responsible for the German contribution to the laser ranging interferometer, this is the first laser-optical equipment in space, along with other equipment provided by us.

A video of the launch can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3niFzo5VLI

STI workshare

STI has significantly contributed to GRACE Follow-On, namely we where responsible for:

  • the Gerrman contribution of the laser ranging interferometer (the optical bench, the retroreflector and the instrument baffles)
  • the LRI instrument integration @ STI facitlities in cooperation with JPL, DLR, Airbus DS and AEI
  • the spacecraft primary structures (structural analysis and procurement)
  • the ASTSS tertiary structure (manufactured by CST)
  • the deployable S-Band boom
  • the Coarse Earth-Sun-Sensors (CESS)
  • the satellite MGSE & transport containers

We did this in contract to the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ) for the LRI  (and under the scientific lead of Albert Einstein Institute Hannover - AEI) and in subcontract to Airbus DS for the other contributions. On the US side we had a close cooperation with JPL who where responsible for the mission and provided the US part of the LRI (the laser, the cavity & the phasemeter).

STI is proud to be part of this mission and thankful for the great cooperation of all project partners!

Much more information on GRACE Follow-On can be found here:

[19.12.2017]

On Friday 12 December 2017, the transport of the two GRACE-FO satellites and their launch adapter from IABG to Munich Airport was successfully completed. STI helped to transport the Transport Containers with the Flight Hardware from IABG to Munich Airport Cargo Terminal and supervised the loading of the containers into a Boeing 747. The MGSE designed, manufactured and delivered by STI did an excellent job, the customer (Airbus DS) was very pleased. The Boeing 747 took off at about 10:39 local time and arrived in Los Angeles.

The GRACE Follow-On mission, scheduled for launch in early 2018, will ensure the continuation of the gravity field measurements of GRACE. The mission and satellite development are realized in a US-German cooperation. SpaceTech signed responsible for the analysis and procurement of the satellite primary and secondary structures, a deployable antenna boom, the German contribution of the laser ranging interferometer and satellite MGSE.

2017 12 19 GRACE FO MGSE und Abflug Bild1

 

2017 12 19 GRACE FO MGSE und Abflug Bild2

[19.10.2017]

2017 10 19 S5P Launch

[Rendered image of the S5P release: the launcher opens for satellite release with the last stage still firing. Source: ESA]

On Friday 13 October 2017, the satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) was launched from the Cosmodrome in Plesezk, Russia. SpaceTech has developed and delivered the Deployable Solar Array Panel (DSAP) system for this ESA mission under an Airbus UK contract. The DSAP consists of 3 solar generator panels including the photovoltaic assembly and deployment mechanisms. While stored in the launch vehicle, the solar arrays remain stowed and are deployed once the spacecraft is released from the launcher.

The successful deployment and operation of the DSAP is another example of STI’s smart designs and high reliability. More information on S5P and the interview with STI's Project Manager Thomas Franck can be found here: Video (Source: www.schwaebische.de)

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The Sentinel-5 Precursor mission (S5p) is part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative (GMES), which is a joint undertaking of the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA). The spacecraft orbits on 824 km height and collects essential data on the atmoshperic chemistry (especially the percentages of tracer gases like carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxid etc).