Redwire Granted Contract To Assist in ESA’s Comet Interceptor Mission

25th Oct 2023
Redwire Granted Contract To Assist in ESA’s Comet Interceptor Mission

Redwire Corporation, a US-based space infrastructure services company, has recently announced that OHB Italia S.p.A has selected it to facilitate the onboard computer in the implementation phase of the ESA’s (European Space Agency) Comet Interceptor mission. The Comet Interceptor is set to be the first-ever spacecraft to travel to and study a long-period, undiscovered comet or astronomical object that is only just beginning its journey into the inner Solar System from interstellar space.

What is the Comet Interceptor Mission?

The Comet Interceptor mission is a comet exploration quest spearheaded by the ESA. The Agency selected the project in June 2019 to be its fast-class mission in its Cosmic Vision campaign. 

As mentioned, the mission is set to pioneer in visiting an LPC (Long Period Comet) or even an interstellar object just embarking on its journey toward the inner Solar System.

The upcoming expedition involves a voyage to an unknown comet, with a planned flyby as the comet approaches Earth’s orbit. The mission will be performed by three spacecraft, observing the comet from varying angles to form a 3D profile of the interstellar object containing unprocessed material dating back to the beginning of the Solar System.

What Will the Onboard Computer’s Functions be?

Redwire Space NV, a Belgian subsidiary fully owned by Redwire, will be responsible for developing the onboard computer for the mission. The computer will function as the “brain” of the spacecraft to be used in the mission. It is designed to oversee and regulate other components, as well as transmit vital data to ground operators. The onboard computer is an integral part of Redwire’s Advanced Data and Power Management System, which is currently in its third generation.

Redwire Space Europe President Erik Masure expressed pride in their partnership with OHB Italy and ESA to further the mission. 

“We are proud to partner with OHB Italy and ESA to enable the first-of-its-kind Comet Interceptor mission with critical technology to deepen our understanding of the solar system,” said Masure. “Redwire Space Europe’s breadth of advanced, flight-proven satellite technology is continuing to enable Europe’s most ambitious space missions.”

“OHB Italy considers Redwire as a potential and reliable partner for future missions and is confident that the collaboration with Redwire both for the Comet Interceptor mission and for future activities will be fruitful,” stated a spokesperson from OHB Italy.

Redwire’s Involvement in Other ESA Activities

Redwire, through its expanded international operations, will be involved in various ESA projects. These include the Cheops mission to explore and conduct research on extrasolar planets and the Euclid project, which aims to render the largest, most precise 3D map of the universe to date. 
Other projects include Proba-3, set to become the first precision formation flying mission not just for the ESA but the entire world; the IBDM (International Berthing and Docking Mechanism); the Altius ozone mission, and the Hera mission, where a spacecraft will be sent to Didymos between 2024 and 2026.

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