NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, the world’s first planetary defense test mission, launched two years ago on November 24, 2021. With Redwire’s Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) and digital sun sensors onboard, DART made history when it successfully impacted the moonlet of binary asteroid Didymos in September of 2022 to adjust its speed and trajectory. DART demonstrated critical technology that could one day be used to protect Earth from a dangerous asteroid or comet and set the stage for future planetary defense missions.
Following DART’s successful impact is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hera mission, DART’s European counterpart. The main Hera spacecraft and its two companion cubesats will analyze the aftermath of DART’s impact and determine if the spacecraft changed the trajectory of the Didymos moonlet. Hera’s detailed investigations of DART’s impact will substantially enhance the planetary defense knowledge gained from DART’s asteroid deflection test.
For the Hera mission, Redwire was responsible for the design and development of the On-board Data Handling subsystem, which involves an implementation of Redwire’s 3rd generation Advanced Data and Power Management System (ADPMS-3) onboard computer. The ADPMS-3 onboard computer acts as the “brain” of the spacecraft: it monitors and controls the full spacecraft, including transmitting critical data to operators on the ground. ADPMS-3 is a fully qualified product that can be both used for low Earth orbit and Deep Space missions. Redwire also developed the basic software that runs on the onboard computer for the Mass Memory Unit.
The Data Handling Subsystem was delivered to OHB, the prime contractor for the HERA mission, in Germany earlier this year. HERA is now in testing phase at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre. Hera is scheduled for launch in October 2024.
Through its expanded global operations, Redwire is proud to support a variety of exciting ESA activities with its onboard computer and other technology. Redwire recently announced that it is providing the onboard computer for ESA’s Comet Interceptor mission through a contract with OHB Italia. Comet Interceptor will be the first spacecraft to visit a long-period, dynamically new comet or interstellar object.