BepiColombo, a satellite with the participation of the SENER Group companies11/12/2018 (International)
SENER has been heavily involved in BepiColombo, the Mercury mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), in collaboration with the Japanese agency JAXA, launched into space in the early morning hours of October 20 from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, onboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
In this project, the SENER group companies are responsible for the low-gain antennas, the medium-gain antenna and the waveguides for routing the signal and the pointing mechanism for the high-gain antenna. These units are in charge of staying in contact with the Earth at all times by transmitting the satellite's telemetry and receiving its telecommands, as well as sending all the scientific data. They are thus a critical element to the success of the mission.
SENER also manufactured the magnetometer boom, which separates the instruments from the satellite's magnetic influence. SENER thus confirms its standing as the leading provider of boom instruments for ESA.
Manufacturing these units required certifying a number of processes at the forefront of technology, such as titanium plating, the gearhead motors and sensors for high-temperatures, as well as other components that must work in a wide range of temperatures (-130º C to +540º C) in order to satisfy the extreme thermomechanical conditions of this mission.
In fact, BepiColombo was a turning point in the classic projects of SENER, given its marked multidisciplinary nature. The antenna subsystem combined disciplines as varied as pointing mechanisms, electronics, control and orbit attitude, radiofrequency and communications and, finally, systems engineering. A complex project from the technological and management point of view, which has been successfully completed in the past weeks with the launch and commissioning of the satellite in orbit.
The development of BepiColombo has provided SENER with the experience they needed to complete subsequent work, such as the complete antenna subsystems - high, medium and low gain antennas (HGA, MGA and LGA) - for the Solar Orbiter and the waveguides for the high together with medium gain antenna major assembly on the JUICE Jupiter mission, which also posed significant technical challenges due to the environmental extremes. SENER was also involved with the antennas on the Curiosity rover, which is currently on Mars, and on the Euclid mission to study dark energy and dark matter.
This new milestone and its engineering contributions confirm SENER's standing as one of the leading groups for the ESA's science programs. For more than 50 years, SENER has been a top-tier supplier of electromechanical components and systems, navigation systems (GNC/AOCS), communications, astronomy and optics systems for Space, and it is currently participating in the main programs of ESA and NASA (including, in addition to those already mentioned, Hubble, Galileo, MetOp, Rosetta, Gaia, MTG, Herschel and Planck, IXV, Proba 3 and Mars 2020) and of the European Space Observatory (ESO).