With the Second Young Engineers Satellite (YES2) on schedule for a launch on 14 September, ESA is already looking forward to the next mission in the series. Six candidate missions for the YES3 flight opportunity have now been selected for further development and evaluation by the ESA Education Projects Division.
Following a Call for Mission Proposals issued on 25 August 2006 and a YES3 Workshop held in Greece in early October, 20 mission proposals were received before the deadline of 20 October. These were then reviewed by a selection panel consisting of personnel from the ESA Education Projects Division.
The proposals were judged particularly on their content and whether they fulfilled the requirements put forward in the Call for Mission Proposals. Additional criteria included their feasibility for a YES3 student mission, likely cost and educational return.
After careful evaluation, the panel drew up a recommended shortlist of six proposals. This recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the agency’s Director of Legal and External Relations on 4 December. The shortlisted missions were:
1. Inflatable Re-entry Capsules: M. Adamo, D. Duri, L. Mainini, G. Ridolfi, A. Torasso, A. Tromba (Politecnico di Torino)
A system to deploy more than two inflatable capsules and insert them into a re-entry trajectory that will ensure a landing within a target area no larger than 380 km x 60 km. Building on past work, including the original proposal to develop a YES2 inflatable re-entry capsule, the aim is to improve and demonstrate the feasibility of this concept. The use of multiple capsules, besides offering redundancy, would enable the study of different design parameters.
2. Magnoglider: Bringing Picosat and Electrodynamic Technology into Space Mail Concept: C. C. Tapia, D. C. Ortiz (University of Madrid)
A mission proposal that consists of a re-entry capsule very similar to that used in YES2, but installed in a controllable re-entry vessel equipped with an electrodynamic tether. This vessel would also deploy a ‘master cubesat’ that will function as the main communication station for a number of picosat transponders (up to 30-40), equally spaced along a 350 km of altitude circular orbit.
3. Multiple Nanosatellite Mission: Formation Flight and Creation of a new Reference System: S. Speretta (Politecnico di Torino), J. Sverdrup-Thygeson (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
A proposal to deploy at least four intercommunicating nanosatellites, demonstrate the feasibility of small satellite formation flying and validate the emission coordinate model for use as an independent reference frame in space. Once the constellation has been established, intercommunication between the satellites will be tested. An independent space reference frame could be created, made up of a constellation of orbiting satellites, each equipped with a precision clock.
4. On-Orbit Servicing Test Module: E. Papadopoulos, G. Rekleitis, I. Tortopidis, I. Paraskevas, T. Flessa (National Technical University of Athens)
The objective of this module will be to demonstrate the feasibility of a semi-autonomous robot that will test on-orbit servicing requirements such as approach and path planning methods, inspection techniques, satellite docking procedures and hardware replacement. Carried to orbit by the YES3 satellite, the module will consist of two main components: a mock-up satellite and a free-flying servicing robot.
5. Pilot Mission Inside the MLT Region: T. Sarris (ATHENA Research Centre, Xanthi, Greece)
The Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (MLT) remain the least explored and understood parts of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. This pilot mission would explore and test key concepts, parameters and instrumentation needed to study the region between 60 and 200 km above the Earth. It would involve a ‘dipping’ satellite in elliptical orbit which releases small sub-satellites for selected perigee passes. Each of these payloads would survive only a few days, but the full mission could last several months, depending on the number of sub-satellites.
6. Solar Sail: M. Adamo, D. Duri, L. Mainini, G. Ridolfi, A. Torasso, A. Tromba (Politecnico di Torino)
A solar sail spacecraft that will be used to validate this new technology, investigating particularly the most critical phases of an actual space mission. The main objective is to deploy the solar sail in Earth orbit, continually monitoring the behaviour of the structural parts and the performance of the spacecraft. After deployment, a number of controlled manoeuvres will be undertaken to modify the solar sail’s altitude.
The next steps
“We wish to thank all of the proposing teams for their outstanding efforts,” said Åge-Raymond Riise, YES3 Mission Coordinator. “Since the YES2 Team at ESTEC will be very busy with flight hardware delivery, integration and testing until the end of March 2007, the next phase of YES3 will begin in early April.”
“The shortlisted teams will be invited to come to ESTEC on 16 - 18 April to present their mission concepts for review by a panel of ESA experts and staff from the ESA Education Projects Division.
“Each review will consist of one hour for the presentation of the mission concept by one or more team members; one hour for questions and answers; and one hour for discussions/conclusions by the panel members. Proposing teams may submit revised/improved proposals to me no later than two weeks before the April workshop.”
At the end of the three-day review, the six shortlisted proposals will be reduced to three. These remaining proposals will be studied in more detail over the following months and the results of the three parallel studies will be presented to a wider audience.
A selection panel composed of senior ESA experts and members of the ESA Education Projects Division will then make a final recommendation for the YES3 mission to the Director of Legal and External Relations.
Update Feburary 2008: The YES3 project has been put on hold.