Solar Orbiter is a satellite mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), with strong NASA participation, which is planned to be launched on the 9th /10th of February. Solar Orbiter will address important questions in Solar System science to help us understand how our star creates and controls the giant bubble of plasma that surrounds the whole Solar System and influences the planets within it.
OHB Sweden has co-engineered and built the Solar Orbiter on-board propulsion system. For Solar Orbiter to reach its position in orbit around the sun where the scientific measurements will take place, a large speed increase (delta-V) is needed. This delta-V cannot be achieved for practical and economic reasons with the on-board propulsion system only. Instead it is achieved mainly by so called swing-by or gravity assists from planets that the spacecraft passes on its way to the sun. Solar Orbiter does nine of these swing-by’s, eight around Venus and one around the earth during its two years journey to the sun. These orbit maneuvers and attitude control of the spacecraft requires great precision. This precision is made possible by the on-board propulsion system delivered by OHB Sweden.
OHB Sweden has designed and built the propulsion system in its premises in Kista, Stockholm, Sweden. Integration on the spacecraft was performed by OHB Sweden on site at Airbus DS, Stevenage UK. The system is a bi-propellant system (MMH and MON-3) with two identical tanks, one for propellant and one for the oxidant. Furthermore it consists of one helium pressurant tank for pressurization, a number of valves and regulators, eighteen thrusters and a complete thermal control system for the propulsion system. It consists of components from both European and US suppliers.
OHB Sweden has also contributed to the Attitude & Orbit Control System (AOCS) on SolO, especially on the specification and procurement of hardware equipment, software, and the fault detection system (FDIR).
OHB Sweden is proud to be part of this mission and we wish Solar Orbiter a good journey to the sun and subsequent successful and valuable scientific work, once there.
Further information can also be found here.