Hitching a ride
Progress in space depends on innovation. The Proba series offers early spaceflight opportunities for new technologies from European companies, especially from small and medium enterprises, helping to boost Europe’s competitiveness in global markets.
Accordingly, Proba-V is crammed with as many technology demonstration packages as possible, known as guest payloads. These are promising technologies from all across Europe, which are being given an early chance for a try-out in space.
For innovative products, flight heritage is essential for market acceptance. Conservative by training, mission managers are disinclined to take chances on novelties: they want to know above all else that new products have already been proven to work reliably.
The two previous Proba missions have been the first to fly such subsequently influential innovations as the first lithium-ion battery for space, the first gallium arsenide solar cells, the first APS-based startracker and the first LEON2-FT microprocessor, ESA’s latest generation of space computer chips.
Proba-V had less room to spare for ‘techno-demo’ payloads than its predecessors, but the team still did their very best to accommodate as many other items as possible, adding an extra couple of payloads by taking out the weights used to keep the satellite’s centre of gravity in balance with its centre of geometry.
Last update: 18 March 2013