Bremen, March 08, 2018. OHB System AG, a subsidiary of listed space and technology company OHB SE, and Thales Alenia Space, joint venture Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%, have signed a contract worth € 102.6 million under which the Bremen-based space systems specialist is to supply the carrier module for the second ExoMars mission. The ExoMars program is developed in an international cooperation established between the European Space Agency ESA and the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, for the purpose of searching for traces of life on the Red Planet.
OHB carrier module for a safe journey to Mars
With this second ExoMars mission going by the name of “ExoMars Rover and Surface Platform Mission” (RSP), OHB’s carrier module will be transporting a descent module, containing a landing platform and a European rover to Mars in July 2020.
As a member of the core team of the mission lead manager of the European Space Agency ESA, Thales Alenia Space, Italy, OHB will be supplying a structural model, an electronics test stand, the flight model and replacement parts, various items of ground equipment and mathematical simulation models for the carrier. For its part, OHB will be in charge of a core team that delivers the subsystems for the carrier and comprises proven partners RUAG Switzerland (responsible for the structure and mechanical ground equipment), Belgian affiliate Antwerp Space (supplying the X-band communications system and electronic ground equipment) and Thales Alenia Space UK (in charge of the propulsion system). The carrier flight model is to be shipped to Thales Alenia Space in Italy (Turin) in February 2019 for its integration together with the other modules and subsequently to France (Cannes), where testing of the complete satellite composite will be performed prior to leave for the Baikonur launch site. OHB sent the structural model to the customer at the beginning of 2017 followed by the electronics test stand at the beginning of 2018.
ExoMars: two missions – one program
The ExoMars program is divided into two missions to the Red Planet: The trace gas orbiter (TGO) and an entry and landing module were launched in 2016. Successfully commenced at the end of last year, the TGO scientific mission is to continue until the end of 2022. OHB was responsible for the core module of the TGO, thus making the largest German contribution to the first mission in a subcontract also awarded by Thales Alenia Space.
With the assistance of a fixed Russian station and the mobile rover, the second mission is to continue and intensify the search for traces of life on Mars. In addition to the carrier components mentioned above, OHB will also be supplying key elements of the Mars Rover. In this connection, it will be contributing its expertise in selecting, preparing, distributing and analyzing soil samples taken from a depth of up to two meters. To this end, OHB experts at the company’s Oberpfaffenhofen site have developed a high-resolution camera, a complex system built into the rover for preparing and distributing the samples and contributions to the RAMAN/RLS laser instrument for mineralogical examinations on the planet’s surface.