#13: BepiColombo integration and functional testing completed at Thales Alenia Space in Turin
21 July 2014Integration and functional testing activities for the protoflight models of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter, Mercury Transfer Module, and Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure have now been completed at the Thales Alenia Space facility in Turin, Italy. All the mission components have been, or will soon be, delivered to ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, where additional integration tasks and an environmental testing campaign will be performed.
|The BepiColombo MPO and MTM during the press event at Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy. Credit: Thales Alenia Space||
The BepiColombo MTM and MOSIF arriving at ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
Credit: ESA - Anneke Le Floc'h
On 4 July 2014, a press event was held at the Turin facility of Thales Alenia Space (TAS-I) to mark the completion of a shipment readiness review held before the ProtoFlight Models (PFMs) of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), and Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF) were prepared for transport to ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. At ESTEC, final integration tasks and then environmental testing will be performed.
The MTM and MOSIF left Turin on the evening of 7 July and arrived at ESTEC during the night of 10/11 July. The MPO is scheduled to leave on 4 August and arrive on 7/8 August.
Mercury Transfer Module
|The BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module on arrival at Thales Alenia Space in Turin. Credit: ESA||
The BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module during electrical integration.
|The BepiColombo Mercury Transfer Module thruster floor. Credit: ESA|
The MTM was delivered to TAS-I by Astrium UK (now Airbus Defence and Space). As supplied, it consisted of the mechanical spacecraft bus and the chemical propulsion system. The MTM radiator panels were removed from the central structure and the module has been equipped with the rest of its subsystems while in Turin. However, for the electrical propulsion subsystem, the relevant high voltage harness and electronic units are still representative dummy models, used to confirm the routing of the harness. While the spacecraft is at ESTEC, these will be replaced with the flight units and the four electric thrusters will be installed on the thruster pointing mechanisms already integrated on the MTM thruster floor. Once this has been completed, the thermal blankets will be fitted, prior to a Thermal Balance/Thermal Vacuum (TB/TV) test in ESTEC's Large Space Simulator (LSS) during the first half of 2015.
Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure
Integration of the MOSIF structure and harness has been completed in Turin. The thermal protection will be integrated while it is at ESTEC, in readiness for testing as part of the complete spacecraft stack.
Mercury Planetary Orbiter
|The BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter during integration at Thales Alenia Space in Turin. Credit: ESA|
Last year, the MPO was transported to TAS-I from ESTEC, where it had been baked out to remove potential contaminants after having been assembled by Astrium UK. As delivered, it consisted of the spacecraft mechanical bus with the heat pipes and chemical propulsion system installed. Nearly all of its other subsystems and payload components have been integrated and tested while it has been in Turin. Once it arrives back at ESTEC next month, some final integration tasks will be completed and installation of the thermal blankets will be finalised. Later this year, it will undergo TB/TV testing in the LSS.
BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury. It is scheduled to launch in July 2016 and arrive at Mercury in January 2024. It will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C and gather data during a one-year nominal mission, with a possible one-year extension. The mission comprises two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). During the journey to Mercury, the MMO will be shielded from the Sun by the Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF), which also provides the interface between the MMO and the MPO. The fourth component of the composite spacecraft stack is the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), whose primary task is to provide solar-electric propulsion for the journey to Mercury.
BepiColombo is a joint mission by ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership. The Prime Contractor for BepiColombo is Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium GmbH).