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Proba-3 Mission to Launch at the End of the Year

Proba-3 Satellites
Proba-3. Credit: Sener

Ibadan, 5 April 2024. – The Proba-3 mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) is successfully completing its pre-launch tests. Led by Sener, in close collaboration with an industrial team consisting of Redwire, Airbus, GMV and Spacebel, and encompassing a large consortium of over 29 companies from 17 countries, Proba-3 will demonstrate the viability of high-precision formation flying by satellites in space. Both Spain and Belgium are involved in Proba-3. Furthermore, Sener is the mission’s lead contractor, responsible for both the flight and ground segments, with Airbus Defence and Space responsible for the design and manufacture of the two platforms, and GMV responsible for the Formation Flying Subsystem (FFS), the Flight Dynamics System (FDS) and the relative GPS function (rGPS), rounding out Spanish industry’s participation. As for the Belgian industries, Redwire is handling avionics and operations and completing functional testing of the satellites, as well as the integration and one of the scientific instruments (3DEES). Likewise, Spacebel has developed both the onboard software and the ground segment, as well as the simulator for both satellites. To execute the mission, the two satellites, which will fly in an elliptical orbit to a little over 60,000 km from Earth, will be in sync. Each of the satellites will also act independently, calculating its position and trajectory with respect to its counterpart, without support from a human operator, using advanced guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) systems. By flying in formation, the satellites can act as a single optical instrument, creating a virtual structure in space that is highly reconfigurable. The Proba-3 mission aims to demonstrate that future missions can be on a larger scale and at a lower cost by using multiple small modules that behave in flight as a single large satellite.

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