Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

The MarsExpress test bench at Astrium SAS, Toulouse, France - ESA Image
Mars Express Comes Alive As Integration Begins
Toulouse - August 17, 2000 - Europe's mission to Mars is assuming a tangible form at the Astrium SAS (formerly MMS) integration facilities in Toulouse, France. "We're down to the real work. It's not paperwork anymore - it's a real spacecraft," says Vincent Poisignon, Mars Express project manager at Astrium SAS.

Astrium SAS has built, exactly on schedule, the test bench to help ensure that all the components of the Mars Express spacecraft operate in unison. "We've kept to the schedule for one year. This is a real milestone which shows that the new working methods with industry being pioneered by Mars Express are working well," says Rudi Schmidt, Mars Express project manager at ESTEC.

Don McCoy who is responsible for Mars Express Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) at ESTEC explains what the new facility is. "The test bench is really like the spacecraft opened out.

It consists of four tables which are equivalent to the four sides of the spacecraft (see image). The gap in the middle is where the base should be. The boxes attached to the tables represent scientific instruments and spacecraft equipment. They are in the positions they will occupy on the real spacecraft sides."

The test bench provides about 8000 connections between more than 30 units resulting in about 13 km of wiring. "The completion on time of such a complex facility is a credit to the team at Astrium. Everybody is very enthusiastic about their achievement," says McCoy.

The test bench will remain in continual use for the next fifteen months while models of the instruments and other equipment are plugged into their rightful places and tested in a simulation of the electrical environment they will experience on the spacecraft.

"We will be following a sequence of integration," says McCoy. "First we're testing the spacecraft's brains, that's the CDMU (Control and Data Management Unit) or on-board computer (silver box in middle of image). "Next we'll test the remote terminal unit and other spacecraft units before adding the instruments." Overall, this assembly will verify the cooperative operation of about 30 processors, equivalent to 30 interconnected portable PCs.

The models under test will range from breadboards, that is basic models of the electrical design, through more sophisticated engineering models right through to flight models.

"Astrium SAS is taking a novel approach to a test bench in that they will be using it to assemble the entire spacecraft to ensure correct function before finally integrating the units into the flight structure," says McCoy.

While the test bench activities are going on, the spacecraft flight structure and propulsion systems are being built and subjected to dynamical mechanical tests.

When the test bench and flight structure tests are complete, the units will be integrated into the flight spacecraft and the whole system will undergo final testing before being shipped to Baikonur for mating to the Soyuz Fregat launcher in time for launch on 1 June 2003.

 New Software Will Help Mars Express Plan Orbits
Paris - July 26, 2000 - Scientists building instruments for Mars Express are taking delivery this month of a software package to help them plan how and when to operate their instruments during each of the 2293 orbits the spacecraft will make during its first 687 Earth-days of operation.

  • Orbiter instruments in brief
  • ASPERA: Energetic Neutral Atoms Analyser
  • MaRS: Mars Radio Science Experiment
  • OMEGA: IR Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer
  • PFS: Planetary Fourier Spectrometer
  • MARSIS: Subsurface Sounding Radar/Altimeter
  • SPICAM: UV and IR Atmospheric Spectrometer
  • HRSC: High/Super Resolution Stereo Colour Imager

    Thanks for being here;
    We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

    With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

    Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

    If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

    SpaceDaily Contributor
    $5 Billed Once

    credit card or paypal
    SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
    $5 Billed Monthly

    paypal only

    Memory Foam Mattress Review
    Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
    XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.