SSTL to manage student Moon mission

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The European Space Agency’s Education Office has awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology to manage the development and testing of the first European student mission to the Moon.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Education Office has awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology to manage the development and testing of the first European student mission to the Moon.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) was selected as the prime contractor for the European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO) mission, which involves delivering a spacecraft to lunar orbit, followed by six months of operations that include mapping of the lunar surface.

Unlike a typical space project, each spacecraft subsystem, payload and ground-segment element is being designed, built and operated by groups of university students based in ESA member states or cooperating states.

As with the previous satellites sponsored by the ESA Education Office, the objective of ESMO is to prepare the next generation of European engineers and scientists by providing valuable, hands-on experience with a real and demanding space project.

The next major milestone for ESMO will be the System Requirements Review in early 2010, when the universities selected to participate in the final phases of the project will be announced. The system requirements and system design will then be finalised and the specific development role of each university will be confirmed.

Through contractual relationships with the universities, academic staff will become an integral part of the development process, ensuring continuity as students come and go.

ESMO is the fourth small-satellite mission within ESA’s Education Satellite Programme. It is expected to be launched as a secondary payload in late 2013 or early 2014.