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SPACEBEL Wins Comet Interceptor Mission Contract

SPACEBEL wins Comet Interceptor contract. Credit: OHB Italia S.p.A.

Ibadan, 16 January 2023. – SPACEBEL has announced a contract with OHB Italia S.p.A. (Milano), the prime contractor of the Comet Interceptor mission, a European Space Agency (ESA) and Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) program. As a result of the contract, SPACEBEL will provide the Central Software that manages the whole spacecraft, its platform equipment and its payload instruments. This new project will involve a team of up to ten SPACEBEL engineers over the next two years.

The Comet Interceptor, which will tentatively launch in 2029, will comprise three spacecraft carrying high-tech payloads. The mothercraft and its two probes will travel together to the second Lagrange point and wait for a suitable target. The target is a yet-to-be-discovered comet containing material that has not undergone any alteration since the formation of the Solar system about 4,5 billion years ago.

A few hours before intercepting the comet, the three modules will separate and perform simultaneous observations from multiple locations and angles in order to provide 3D data of the comet’s nucleus, gas, dust and plasma environment. The mission will tentatively achieve its objective within 5 to 6 years after launch. The project is a fast or F-class mission, i.e. with a limited implementation time – in this case, ± 8 years from initial proposal selection to launch readiness.

The Comet Interceptor mission will contribute to the overall ESA’s planetary defence efforts, by performing studies that may help to protect Earth. The same holds for ESA’s upcoming Hera mission that will launch in October 2024, which SPACEBEL is also contributing to. SPACEBEL will consequently work on Hera’s flight software, a series of simulation software and the Milani & Juventas Cubesat Mission Operations Centre (CMOC) development in Redu, Belgium.

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