The Detailed Design Review (DDR) was successfully completed on 6 June at Alenia Spazio (I), the prime contractor, in Turin. The DDR Board also included representatives from NASA and from RKA.
The major findings of the Board were as follows:
The ground segment, with its many elements - ground stations, Mission Operations Centre, Integral Science Operations Centre and Integral Science Data Centre - still needs further scrutiny. The Board was in agreement that a dedicated review of the ground segment, including all of these elements and the planned flight operations, should be conducted. It noted the good progress made in defining the technical interface between Integral and the Proton launcher.
The Board concluded that the problems identified appeared to be under control and that the DDR's objectives had been met.
Integration of the XMM spacecraft in progress at DASA/Dornier (D)
Integration of the structural and thermal model of the spacecraft is complete and a series of tests have been successfully conducted at DASA/Dornier (D). The satellite is currently being prepared for shipment to ESTEC (NL), where the environmental test campaign will start in late September and last into early 1998. In parallel, the integration of the electrical model is progressing well. In late August, after successful tests at Matra Marconi Space (F), the attitude and orbit control subsystem (AOCS) equipment was delivered to Dornier, where it is currently being integrated onto the equipment panels of the service-module mock-up.
Whilst the first flight-equipment units are approaching completion, preparations for the system-level Critical Design Review (CDR) are underway. This review will be held during September and October at ESTEC in Noordwijk, and will assess system readiness for flight-satellite integration.
Media Lario (I) has delivered a third flight module which, according to the first optical tests, promises to perform significantly better than specification. While tests at CSL (B) on this mirror module continue, Media Lario is working on the flight-spare model.
The calibration campaign that involved a flight mirror module together with the RGS experiment flight detectors and gratings in the Max-Planck Institute's PANTER facility (D) has been completed. The next such campaign will involve the EPIC (MOS) camera and will last until late November.
The engineering models of the experiments have been delivered to Dornier for integration into the spacecraft engineering model. Flight-model production is proceeding well. The optical elements, as mentioned above, are being used in the PANTER calibration campaign.
Work on ground-segment development has progressed according to plan and the contract negotiations for the software development have been successfully concluded with Logica (UK).
Following the reaching of agreement concerning the electrical and mechanical interfaces between XMM and its Ariane-5 launch vehicle, the Interface Control Document has been completed and signed off. The interfacing provides for fully redundant umbilical connections and the purging of the most sensitive areas of the satellite with clean air and nitrogen until the last moment before lift-off.
Integration of XMM's X-ray baffle onto the mirror support platform at DASA/Dornier (D)
The Phase-B industrial activities have continued with the main emphasis on evaluation of the offers received for the platform and the avionics, which are two of Rosetta's major subsystems. The evaluations have been conducted by ESA on behalf of Dornier.
The Agency's Science Programme Committee (SPC) has approved the Rosetta payload complement, and a solution to the problems in funding the Rosina experiment has been found by the parties involved. Instrument design/ definition is currently in progress.
The ground-segment definition work is proceeding according to plan.
Following completion of the test programmes on the structural- and engineering-model satellites, the flight model has become the focus of attention. The flight structure, fully integrated with propulsion and thermal-control hardware, is now ready for the integration of the electrical equipment. Before this can start, acceptance testing of some subsystems must take place and this is awaiting the delivery of a few remaining equipment items.
To improve the mission capabilities of the L-band mobile communications payload, it has been decided to introduce a transponder to be used as part of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to augment the GPS/GLONASS navigation systems. The equipment for this transponder will be developed in parallel with the Artemis satellite system testing and integrated with the satellite late in the test programme.
Silex LEO terminal
Spot-4, including the Silex LEO terminal which was integrated with it earlier in the year, has now successfully completed its environmental test programme. A series of operational preparation tests are now underway before the satellite is shipped to the launch site next January.
The reflections of the Earth Observation Strategy Task Force, established to prepare for discussions at the next Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in 1998, have continued, as have those of the Industrial Ad-Hoc Working Group. The preliminary results will be presented to an Industrial Workshop on 23/24 October at ESTEC, along with the outcome of wide (questionnaire-based) consultations with Industry.
Following the agreement by the eleven Participating States to exceptionally initiate EOPP Extension 2 at a 46.21% subscription level, work in support of both potential Earth Explorer Missions and Earth Watch Missions has been initiated. Clarification of the intentions of the 'missing' subscribers is still awaited. Unless there is a significant increase in subscriptions, the work programme will have to be reviewed.
The first of a new series of campaigns is now in preparation. Called CLARE 1998, it will build on ongoing work at the Chilbolton radar site (UK) and will study cloud properties by means of satellite observations, airborne radar and lidar, and in-situ observations.
Following the Envisat Mission System Critical Design Review (EMS-CDR) recommendations, the system activities have focused on the finalisation of the interface documentation and preparation of the Ground Segment Overall Verification (GSOV).
The Data Policy document, elaborated by the Data Policy Task Force, has been submitted to the Earth Observation Programme Board for approval.
The Announcement of Opportunity for scientific data exploitation and pilot projects has been prepared and will be released as soon as it has been approved by the Programme Participants.
A draft of the High-Level Operation Plan (HLOP) has been prepared and review work with the DOSTAG is in progress.
Polar Platform (PPF)
The Polar Platform engineering-model integration activities have progressed well with two major achievements. Firstly, the Service Module flight model and the Payload Module engineering model have been electrically assembled and function-ally tested. No significant problems have been identified, thereby validating the overall satellite electrical and functional operation. Secondly, the MERIS engineering-model instrument has been integrated and tested.
Following completion of the structural-model qualification activities, the Structural Model Payload Module has been returned to Matra Marconi Space (UK), where the structure is undergoing refurbishment to become the flight-model structure. The flight-model harness has been manufactured.
Integration of the flight-model Payload Equipment Bay has been completed and final acceptance tests are being performed at DASA/DSS (D).
Following a recommendation of the EMS-CDR Board, it has been decided to use a Solid-State Recorder (SSR) to replace one of the four tape recorders. The associated adaptation and procurement activities have been initiated.
The Envisat MERIS engineering model
The engineering-model programme is nearing completion for most instruments. The test results achieved so far show that performances are well within specification.
The MERIS engineering model has been delivered for integration on the PPF spacecraft as planned, and will be followed closely by the Central Electronic Assembly (CESA) of the ASAR instrument.
In the flight-model programme, a first milestone has been achieved with the delivery by Alenia Spazio (I) of the MWR flight-model instrument at the beginning of August. The MWR is now being assembled in a common structure with DORIS, a CNES-provided Announcement of Opportunity (AO) instrument. Work on the MWR/DORIS complement is planned to be completed by the end of the year.
The manufacture, assembly and testing of the other flight-model instruments is well advanced. The delivery of the last flight-model electronic units is expected to be finalised by mid-September.
As regards the ASAR antenna, the manufacturing lines for the Transmit and Receive Modules (TRMs) are now fully operational. The module tuning and testing process, which is a rather challenging and time-consuming task, has also been optimised to allow for industrial series production. By the end of the project, more than 400 TRMs will have been produced.
Envisat-1 ground segment
The Flight Operation Segment (FOS) and Payload Data Segment (PDS) developments are progressing according to plan. A first delivery of the flight-control software is under integration at ESOC in Darmstadt (D), and the first FOS-PPF compatibility tests for telecommanding and telemetry are planned for early fall.
The PDS integration effort continues. The data chain from satellite data recording up to ASAR image processing has already been successfully integrated, producing its first SAR images generated by reconditioning AMI SAR Imaging Mode data provided by the ERS satellite.
With the recent deliveries of the algorithm documentation for MIPAS Level 2 and Sciamachy from Expert Support Laboratories (ESLs), all low-bit-rate instrument processor developments are now in process within the PDS industrial consortium.
With respect to Processing and Archiving Centre (PAC) activities, the French PAC (F-PAC) development is still the only one formally kicked-off. Iterations on the statement of work are in progress with the other PACs.
The Meteosat Second Generation primary structure, photographed at Contraves (CH)
The Meteosat Transition Programme (MTP) spacecraft was successfully launched by an Ariane 44 LP vehicle from Kourou in French Guiana at 19.21 local time on 2 September. Now known as Meteosat-7, the satellite is expected to arrive at its prescribed geostationary longitude of 10° W on 11 September.
The launch campaign was started on 3 July and the only non-nominal activity needed during this period was the successful re-calibration of the Sun-slit sensors used for attitude measurement. For the launch, the satellite, being part of a combined payload, was mounted inside the SPELDA. The other spacecraft being launched at the same time, Hotbird-3, was carried in the upper position.
Both the launch and the operation of the spacecraft to date have been nominal, with no anomalies detected.
The spacecraft commissioning, being performed by Eumetsat, is due to be completed by the end of October, after which Meteosat-7 will join Meteosat-5 and Meteosat-6 in providing the regular weather pictures over Europe. All of these spacecraft have been provided under ESA spacecraft-supply contracts.
The Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the SEVIRI (Scanning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager) scanning assembly is still in progress and the SEVIRI scheduling remains on a critical path.
The satellite primary structure for the structural and thermal model has been delivered to the prime contractor Aerospatiale in Cannes (F), where the various subsystems and equipment items will be integrated during the rest of the year.
The development of the MSG-l spacecraft and the procurement of MSG-2 and -3 are on schedule, with engineering and thermal/mechanical-model production in progress at equipment and subsystem level. The launch of MSG-1 remains on schedule for October 2000, with MSG-2 to be launched in 2002 and MSG-3 to go into storage in 2003.
By early September, the METOP main development phase was still not fully subscribed. A subscription from the United Kingdom is imminent, but those of Belgium, Spain and France are still lacking. In France's case, the successful flight of Ariane V502 and an evaluation of the full impact of the V501 failure are pre-requisites for their participation. Until these subscriptions materialise, the Programme remains in limbo.
The industrial offer for Phase-C/D has been received and is under evaluation by a joint team from ESA and Eumetsat.
The ERS operations extension (Phase-E1) that will last until the end of 1999 started in May this year. Subscriptions have reached levels of 88.79% for 1997 and 72.08% for 1998, pending the United Kingdom's decision. The subscription from Belgium is still outstanding.
The ERS-2 satellite has continued to provide high-quality data. Some small changes to the payload's onboard software have permitted the already very good availability of scientific data to be further increased.
After the gyro-2 failure in February, the investigations based on analysis of the data combined with on-ground simulations have permitted the implementation of operational solutions to limit the impact of subsequent failures and the provision of information for future projects. A path to reinforce the surveillance and recovery of the spacecraft in the event of any attitude-control anomalies has been uplinked to both ERS-1 and ERS-2. Close monitoring of the gyros shows that their performances are currently stable and that satellite pointing is within specification.
ERS-1 is presently serving as a back-up for ERS-2 and the periodic checkouts show that its high performance levels are being maintained.
A SAR interferometry campaign using both ERS-1 and ERS-2 is planned to start on 21 September for one 35-day cycle in order to complete the Earth interferometric data coverage when new ground stations become operational.
The Columbus Orbital Facility (COF)
Columbus Orbital Facility (COF)
All lower-level Preliminary Design Reviews (PDRs) have been completed and preparations for the COF System PDR, due to start mid-October, are well advanced. The equipment-level and subsystem PDRs have led to consolidation of the overall design, with the introduction of a number of design changes. The Electrical Ground-Support Equipment CDR has been completed and hardware delivery is planned for September 1998.
The full-scale mock-up has been used to evaluate the overall configuration layout, harness and plumbing routings, box accommodation and accessibility. The first campaign of zero-g tests, for which the mock-up was placed in a neutral-buoyancy facility, has also been completed. ESA and NASA astronauts participated in the campaign and performed in-orbit-maintenance simulations. The study to determine the most cost-effective means of providing an external viewing capability has been successfully concluded and a proposal will be presented to the Programme Board (PB-MS) at its September meeting.
Within the industrial consortium, almost all sub- and equipment-level contracts have now been signed. Europeanisation of the video equipment has been achieved, with Italian and German companies now undertaking this important work for the project.
The results of the intensive activities relating to the Space Station Assembly Sequence undertaken since the last Space Station Control Board (SSCB) meeting in May are expected to lead to a COF launch date of October 2002, which would meet ESA's objective of achieving a COF launch before the end of 2002.
Subsequent to the conditional approval of the COF Launch Barter Agreement by the ESA Council in June, ESA and NASA have pursued their efforts to identify mutually acceptable solutions on the intellectual property rights issue. In the frame of the ESA/ASI Node-2/Node-3 Arrangement (which depends on the successful conclusion of the COF Launch Barter Agreement), the Requests for Quotation (RFQs) for the procurement of the European items for Nodes 2 and 3 have been prepared. They are due for release in September, the goal being to have subcontractors fully involved before the end of the year. Activities related to RFQs to US suppliers for Node 3 items, as well as the possibility of obtaining alternative European suppliers for some items, have begun.
The acceptance and transfer of ownership process concerning the MPLM ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support Subsystem) between ESA and ASI is now working well, and delivery has been formalised for the Ground-Support Equipment items and all delivered engineering-model equipment.
Subsystem-level qualification tests have all been completed. However, due to the late close-out of equipment-level qualification testing both in the USA and in Europe, the overall ECLS Subsystem Qualification Review is now expected to be delayed until the end of November. The qualification delays are cascading into the flight-unit deliveries, units of which are now scheduled to be delivered to the MPLM Prime Contractor in December.
Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)
The ATV on Ariane-5 at faring jettison
An extension of the Phase-B2 contract has been approved , ensuring industrial-team continuity and the start-up of advanced Phase-C/D activities to secure the Phase-C/D schedule. Industry is finalising its Phase-C/D proposal for submission to ESA on 29 September. As requested by Delegations, ESA observers have participated in the evaluation of several competitive proposals at equipment level.
Ariane-5/ATV interface definition is progressing as planned, with the objective of securing the ATV demonstration flight on the nominal Ariane-5 version. Discussions between ESA and CNES on the Statement of Work for the Ariane-5 adaptation are still in progress. It is planned to issue Invitations to Tender (ITTs) to industry in September.
Within the ARP programme, the preparation of demonstration flight no. 3 (on Shuttle flight STS-86, planned for 25 September) is on schedule. For the finalisation of the Shuttle-Mir approach and departure trajectories, requirements resulting from the investigation of the Progress-Mir collision damage have to be taken into account.
Crew Transfer Vehicle (CTV)
Following the approval by the Manned Space Programme Board (PB-MS) in May, the Phase-B study contract has been further reoriented with the emphasis on lifting-body activities. In the context of the X38 - CRV/CTV cooperation activity with NASA, a Protocol with the Space Station Programme Office aiming at an 'Agreement in Principle' on the cooperation scheme and another with the NASA X-38 project on the specific content of the X-38 cooperation have been signed.
Operations and ground segment
The definition study of the COF/ATV Operations Control Functions and Facilities (started in April) successfully passed its Assessment Review milestone in June. The preliminary architecture definition was subsequently reviewed in early August, and the Implementation Review is scheduled for the end of September.
The definition study of the COF/ATV Operations Support Functions and Facilities, initiated at the end of May, successfully passed its Assessment Review in early August. The Implementation Review is scheduled for the beginning of October.
The Implementation Baseline Review of the definition study on the Ground Communications Infrastructure was performed in early August. The Final Review is scheduled for end-October.
In the context of the Early Opportunities activities, the selection of external payloads is in process. The initial ten groupings based on the results of the peer evaluation have been reduced to seven, which were approved in July by the European Utilisation Board (EUB) for further technical analysis. The results will be presented to the EUB in mid-September. Besides technical constraints, the availability of funds for the recommended experiments will be the next primary selection filter.
First accommodation studies for External Payloads on the ISS Express Pallets have led to a number of groupings suitable for the three ESA-reserved Adapters. Key technical characteristics inherent in the European Express Pallet payload groupings have been presented to NASA for assessment (re impact on instruments located on neighbouring Pallet Adapters, impact on ISS operations, impact on overall power and communications resources, etc.). In parallel, the programmatic and schedule aspects of the ESA-delivered integrated Express Pallet Adapters are under discussion with NASA.
On 24 July, ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter was awarded the Russian 'Soyuz Return Commander' certificate at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre. He is the first non-Russian astronaut to be awarded this certificate, which qualifies him to be the Commander of a three-person Soyuz capsule during its return from space.
With Thomas Reiter's new certification, ESA has its first astronaut qualified to return a capsule rescue vehicle from the International Space Station. The knowledge acquired by Reiter during the training programme also provides ESA with valuable input for its European Crew Transport/Crew Rescue Vehicle (CTV/CRV) activities.
Data Management System for the Russian Service Module (DMS-R)
Additional software changes requested by RSC-Energia have been settled contractually and implemented into the DMS-R design.
During July and August, all DMS-R engineering-model hardware, software and associated ground-support equipment was shipped to Russia and installed at RSC-Energia. The DMS-R qualification test programme has been completed. The Qualification Review started in August, with the final board session scheduled for the end of September. Manufacture of the first set of flight units was completed by end-July and acceptance testing is currently in progress. The first flight-unit delivery is planned for mid-October.
The scope of the engineering support to Russia through August 1999 (until three months after US Lab launch) and the subsequent long-term support during the operational phase has been defined. As far as long-term support is concerned, the concept of a barter arrangement providing European DMS-R support in return for Russian ATV integration work on the Russian Segment is currently under review.
European Robotic Arm (ERA)
Manufacture and testing of the ERA engineering qualification models is underway for most subsystems. These models are used for thermal and structural qualification testing and for functional development. The schedule is under final revision/consolidation to reflect the new flight-hardware delivery dates which are under discussion with the Russian Space Agency following the delay in the ERA's launch on the Science and Power Platform of the Russian Segment.
Laboratory Support Equipment (LSE)
The Preliminary Design Review (PDR) - started in April with NASA and NASDA participation - for the MELFI (Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer) has progressed successfully. The documenta-tion is being updated accordingly. The PDR Final Board meeting is scheduled for early October, as is that for the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox). Industry submitted its Hexapod Phase-C/D proposal at the end of July.
Following the successful Biorack mission in May on Shuttle flight STS-84, a Symposium is planned in April/May 1998 in Brussels to review the results of the last three Biorack flights, in combination with a Workshop to be organised by the International Life-Science Working Group (ILSWG).
After a long delay, preparations for the Foton-11 mission have been restarted. The ESA payload for this mission consists of Biobox-3 and Biopan-2. The flight hardware was successfully tested with the satellite in July at the Progress factory. The Biobox and the Biopan flight units were subsequently shipped back to ESTEC in August for calibration of the Biobox, the installation of sensors and the application of a special white paint to Biopan, the completion of the control software with the mission parameters, the installation of new batteries, and checkout of the thermally controlled transport containers. The Foton-11 launch date has been set by the Russian authorities for 8 October.
At the end of June, the FluidPac was confirmed as part of ESA's payload on Foton-12. The qualification model is now almost fully assembled. All subsystems have been environmentally tested and qualified. The qualification test at system level is scheduled for completion at the end of September. Spring 1999 is now the assumed Foton-12 mission date.
The preparation of the Mini-Texus 5 mission is proceeding on schedule, with the launch planned for early December. The Mini-Texus 6 (combustion experiment) and 7 (droplet-evaporation experiment) missions are both scheduled for launch in November 1998, after the Maxus-3 mission with five experiment modules.
The upgrading of the two flight units of the Advanced Protein Crystallisation Facility (APCF) is progressing well. The functional performance and acceptance testing of the refurbished hardware will be carried out in October, and thereafter the facility will be ready for its next mission on Spacehab in October 1998 (on Shuttle flight STS-95).
Further to the inspection of and the definition of the necessary refurbishment for the Advanced Gradient Heating Facility (AGHF), preparation of the AGHF for re-flight on Spacehab in 1998 is in full swing.
Post-flight evaluation of the MOMO (Morphological Transition and Model Substances) experiment data is progressing with the evaluation of the data returned. First results indicate only partial experiment success, due to the thermal anomalies that occurred during the STS-84 mission in May. Current plans call for a re-flight on STS-95 in October 1998, assuming that the earlier failure(s) can be clerly identified and eliminated and that the necessary funding can be obtained.
As part of a broader human physiological research package, and in collaboration with CNES, the Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System (ARMS) is a candidate for their planned 120-day Mir-99 mission. In view of the uncertainties associated with Mir's future, an alternative flight opportunity on one of the new Spacehab missions is also being considered.
Microgravity Facilities for Columbus (MFC)
The MFC Programme, formally initiated on 1 January this year, includes several multi-user facilities: the Biolab, the Fluid-Science Laboratory (FSL), the Material-Science Laboratory (MSL) and the European Physiology Modules (EPM). New elements have also been added to the Programme, such as the Bioglovebox and the Experiment Processing Unit (EPU) for Biolab. The Bioglovebox was originally planned to be part of EMIR-2, whilst the EPU became necessary because the majority of the biological experiments have to be prepared in-orbit prior to their processing in Biolab.
The Biolab Phase-C/D Request for Quotation (RFQ) was released in mid-July and submission of the industrial consortium's proposal is due by the end of September. The Phase-C/D itself is planned to start during the last quarter of this year.
The FSL Phase-B Mid-Term Design Review was successfully completed in July. The Phase-B final presentation will take place in early November, and the RFQ for Phase-C/D will be issued shortly thereafter. The FSL Phase-C/D will be initiated in March 1998.
NASA is scheduled to provide preliminary rack-interface definition data for the MSL's accommodation inside the US Lab, by the end of September. These data will form the basis for study of the MSL's accommodation in the US module, for the completion of Phase-B which is planned for early 1998.
The Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the EPM was released in June, incorporating the input from the dedicated Science Team. The Phase-A contract is to be initiated in October.
At the end of June, Mir Crew No. 24 -consisting of Alexander Solovyev and Pavel Vinogradov - completed their experiment training in preparation for the EUROMIR-E mission. The main set of resupply hardware for the mission was delivered to Mir by an unmanned Progress vehicle on 7 July.
Following the 25 June collision at Mir and the subsequent loss of approximately 35% of the station's power, the scientific activities onboard came to a halt. The subsequent investigations by the crew have revealed that the majority of the EUROMIR-E experiment hardware is located in the damaged Spektr module and cannot currently be reached. In the meantime, Mir Crew No. 24 was launched on 5 August and docked successfully with the station on 7 August.
On 22 August, A. Solovyev and P. Vinogradov donned their EVA suits and entered the depressurised Spektr module, where they reconnected Spektr's solar-power generators to the main part of the Mir station, thereby restoring its power-generation capability. However, no ESA scientific equipment could be recovered from Spektr, nor could the puncture in its hull be located during this visit, nor during the subsequent EVA performed on 6 September by A. Solovyev and US Astronaut M. Foale.
Whether the agreed EUROMIR-E experiment programme can be conducted by a future Mir crew will be negotiated with the Russian authorities once the station has been restored to better operational status.
DDE (Discharge Detector Experiment)
The definition phase (Phase-A study) was completed in April. Between May and August, both the consolidation of the design and the definition of the DDE's interfaces with the spacecraft (NPO PM) and the telemetry system (Novosibirsk State University) have taken place. NSU has completed the study and testing necessary to define the thickness of the space-exposed boxes and the type and size of the dielectric materials that will be used in the experiment.
The DDE experiment (breadboard) is to be manufactured and tested in January 1998. The manufacture, calibration and electrical testing of the DDE flight unit are to be completed in April 1998, and the experiment must be ready for delivery to NPO PM for integration and testing on the ESPRESS-13 spacecraft at the end of July 1998. The spacecraft is scheduled for launch in December 1998 and will be operational for 30 months (minimum expected lifetime of the experiment).
FEEP (Field-Emission Electric Propulsion)
The proposal for the development and flight demonstration of the FEEP system has been accepted for evaluation. This proposal takes into account both potential commercial (millinewton thrust) and scientific (micronewton thrust) applications of the technology. This propulsion system will be demonstrated using a Get-Away Special (GAS) canister launched on a Space Shuttle in 1999. The work will start in October .
JERICO (Joint European Robotics and Interactive Calibrated Operations)
The second phase of the project, covering system development, integration and operations, is currently on hold. JERICO should have been installed on the Russian Mir space station, to form a unique external payload-servicing facility with the Russian Pelikan robotic system, for which a cooperative agreement between RSC-Energia and ESA/ASI had been negotiated.
Given the current situation on the station, new accommodation studies are in progress. Among other options, the project team is investigating placing the JERICO robotic system on the Russian Service Module of the International Space Station. A final decision about its accommodation can be expected in October, by which time the Russian Space Agency should have decided on how to proceed with the Pelikan robotic system.
ASI's role in JERICO, namely the system development, testing and delivery of the robotic system, is progressing well and is unaffected by the above developments.
PROBA (Project for On Board Autonomy)
One industrial proposal, received in June, was accepted for evaluation. The latter revealed that although the proposal contained a number of positive points, overall it could not be considered sufficiently mature for an immediate programme start. Therefore, in order to avoid excessive delay, it was decided to start a preliminary mission design phase, leading to a fully consolidated set of system specifications. Once these are accepted, the consortium led by Verhaert (B) will resubmit a proposal covering all of the remaining project activities. ESA will then resume the evaluation exercise, which is presently on hold.
The process of selecting suitable payloads for PROBA, which is to be launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit by the end of 1999 or in 2000, has been started.
STOF (Slosh Test Orbital Facility)
This Shuttle Hitchhiker payload is composed of the Sloshsat satellite and the so-called ESAJECT ejection system.
Sloshsat is a small free-flying spacecraft that will be ejected from a Hitchhiker Pallet in the Shuttle's cargo bay, using the ESA-developed ejection and communication system. It is designed to investigate the forces exerted on a manoeuvring spacecraft by a liquid sloshing in a partially filled onboard tank. Sloshsat will be operated for the duration of the Shuttle flight from a ground station at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, using the Shuttle as a communications relay, and will not be retrieved. ESA and NASA have recently signed a Letter of Agreement providing for the free launch of STOF in exchange for experiment resources and the residual ESAJECT flight hardware.
The main contractor for Sloshsat is NLR (NL), and that for ESAJECT is Verhaert (B).
Following a subsystem Critical Design Review (CDR) in January, the Sloshsat satellite CDR took place in May. It showed that additional design work was needed before being able to proceed with manufacturing and verification activities.
The ESAJECT CDR took place in April 1997. Its design was considered mature, but certain design changes requested by NASA during the recent Safety Review have to be accommodated.
TPX II (Two-Phase Flow Experiment II)
The experiment's preparation is proceeding according to plan and ESA expects to deliver TPX II to NASA later this year. Due to a recent change in Shuttle safety requirements, the experiment is currently undergoing a series of additional tests. Launch of TPX II is planned for early 1998.