BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the still largely unexplored planet Mercury. It is scheduled to launch for the six-year journey in July 2016. BepiColombo comprises three modules (two orbiters and one propulsion module), the overall unit is roughly six meters high and weighs around four metric tons. Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium) was selected to design, develop and integrate the BepiColombo spacecraft.
At its site in Ottobrunn near Munich (Germany) our long-time customer Airbus Defence and Space develops and builds solar arrays for BepiColombo. The biggest challenge here is preparing the arrays to withstand temperature fluctuations ranging between -270 and +510 degrees Fahrenheit and to protect them from the sun’s intense UV radiation. To date, there is no direct experience from comparable projects having to endure these extreme conditions. For nearly 50 years, Airbus’ centre of competence for solar arrays in Ottobrunn has been equipping spacecraft of every class with these highly efficient ‘power plants’.
And here again, Airbus Defence and Space uses the proven m+p VibControl system for powerful multi-channel vibration testing. m+p VibControl ensures safe testing and maximum protection of BepiColombo’s solar arrays. The control software provides reliable, repeatable results and extensive data analysis. The high-precision measurement hardware is mounted into two racks with 128 input channels each.