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Airbus to further develop LISA gravitational wave observatory mission

Artist’s impression of the LISA Pathfinder. Credit: ESA / C.Carreau

Edinburgh / Friedrichshafen, 20 May 2022. – Airbus announced it has been awarded a contract from ESA to further develop the implementation of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). The mission design and final technology development are due to be completed by 2024, with a planned launch in the late 2030s.

Gravitational waves, first postulated by Albert Einstein, are created by black hole collisions or mergers, causing ripples in space-time. These waves are detectable by sensitive instruments even from billions of light years away. 

LISA will consist of three spacecraft that form an equilateral triangle at a distance of 2.5 million kilometres from each other. Incoming waves will change this distance by less than the diameter of an atom. Any movement will be detected by the constellation’s laser interferometry and sensitive instruments.

The key technologies required for the LISA-mission have been successfully tested in space during the LISA Pathfinder mission. The Pathfinder mission’s development and build was led by Airbus. The gravitational wave observatory will expand our knowledge of the Universe as it will be able to observe parts of space that are otherwise invisible.

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