The European Space Agency’s (ESA) PROBA-3 mission is the world’s first precision formation flying mission. PROBA-3 will play an important role in proving formation flying technologies and rendezvous experiments for future science, astronomy and Earth observation missions that will require formation flying.
For the mission, two small satellites will launch together and separate, maintaining a specific distance and working as one unit in a highly elliptical orbit around Earth. PROBA-3 will also be the first mission distributing a single optical instrument – a sun-watching coronagraph – over two platforms. One satellite will carry the sun occulter and the other will carry the coronagraph instrument, allowing continuous views of the Sun’s aurora. As a versatile platform, PROBA-3 will serve as a test for future multi-satellite missions flying as one virtual structure and will also be carrying various other technology demonstrations.
Redwire’s Europe team provided two second-generation Advanced Data and Power Management Systems (ADPMS), which were adapted for the PROBA-3 mission, along with the avionics design for both vehicles. Built in Belgium, this system controls the vehicles as the on-board computer. Redwire is also responsible for integration, testing, and the development of one of the technology demonstration payloads: the 3D Energetic Electron Spectrometer (3DEES), a high-fidelity 3D energetic electron spectrometer capable of measuring the energy of electrons up to 10 MeV and protons up to 300MeV. 3DEES features up to 12 apertures, which makes it possible to measure the angular distribution of radiation in space.
Integration of PROBA-3 was recently completed at Redwire’s Belgium facility. Next, the PROBA-3 spacecraft will go to Germany for environmental testing. In August, the spacecraft will return to Redwire for final functional testing ahead of launch in 2024.
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If you’d like to discover more about PROBA-3, check out this video from ESA via YouTube.