Beagle 2 leaps technical hurdle
26 October 1999The Mars Express lander, Beagle 2, is technically ready to go to the nextstage. That is the conclusion of two reviews held in Stevenage, UK lastweek. The reviews' recommendations will go before ESA's Science ProgrammeCommittee (SPC) for endorsement on 10 November.
The first, a Systems Engineering Review, was conducted by a team of eight independent experts from ESA who assessed the design presented by the Beagle Consortium for overall technical viability and readiness to progress to the next phase of the project. The second, a Preliminary Design Review, was jointly chaired by ESTEC and MMS, Toulouse, the Mars Express prime contractor, and included representatives from the Beagle Consortium as well as science and technical team members from ESOC and ESTEC.The primary objectives of this review were to 'freeze' all interfaces between Beagle and the Mars Express spacecraft, thereby allowing the prime contractor to finalise the spacecraft design. "Both reviews concluded that Beagle 2 is ready to go to phases C/D (construction). They also identified areas where additional work needs to be done by the end of the year. A check on the progress of these final items will be made mid-January," says Con McCarthy the Lander Principal Systems Engineer at ESTEC. The SPC is expected to give its final approval for Beagle 2 when Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 principal investigator, demonstrates a viable finance package for the lander.