European Astrotech Fuels ESA's EUCLID satellite

21/06/23 | Sector/Industry News, Tenant News

Westcott based European Astrotech has successfully fuelled the EUCLID spacecraft on behalf of ESA, OHB-SE and TAS-I ahead of its launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in July 2023.

A team of four engineers, supported by expert colleagues from OHB-SE and TAS-I performed the operation on 16th July, loading ~141 kg of hydrazine propellant on-board before pressuring the tank for flight. 

Fuelling the spacecraft is a delicate operation because the hydrazine fuel is highly toxic. The operators wore SCAPE (Self Contained Protective ensemble) suits for the duration of the operation to ensure they were protected from the toxic propellant. 

Ten hydrazine thrusters will provide chemical propulsion to complete the journey to Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2, perform monthly manoeuvres to stay in orbit, and dispose of the spacecraft at the end of the mission’s life. 140 kg of hydrazine are stored in one central tank.

To deliver images of the highest quality, the Euclid’s spacecraft must ensure a very precise and stable pointing. For accomplishing this, Euclid will use six cold gas micro-propulsion thrusters fed by nitrogen stored in four tanks at high pressure. The stored 70 kg of nitrogen will ensure a mission lifetime of at least six years. 

ESA's Euclid mission is designed to explore the composition and evolution of the dark Universe. The space telescope will create the largest, most accurate 3D map of the Universe across space and time by observing billions of galaxies out to 10 billion light-years, across more than a third of the sky. Euclid will explore how the Universe has expanded and how large-scale structure is distributed across space and time, revealing more about the role of gravity and the nature of dark energy and dark matter. 

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