New payload for Airbus’s ISS Bartolomeo module

Airbus and Fraunhofer EMI have signed a deal to trial a new thermal Earth observation platform onboard the ISS Bartolomeo module.

Bartolomeo
(Credit: NASA)

The Airbus-built Bartolomeo was attached to the space station’s Columbus module earlier this year and can host third-party payloads external to the ISS. This latest mission will see a thermal infrared detector from Fraunhofer spin-off ConstellR launched to the ISS via the ArgUS Multi-Payload Carrier, a plate designed to co-accommodate several smaller payloads on one Bartolomeo payload site.

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Measuring approximately 3U (about 3000 cm³), the ConstellR thermal camera will be used for highly accurate land surface temperature (LST) monitoring, which is increasingly in demand for environmental and climate modelling. ConstellR is aiming to build a microsatellite constellation to provide information on Earth’s precise surface temperature on a global scale, updated daily or even more frequently.

“Obviously, the reliability and performance of our camera is the key to the success of our mission to tackle key societal challenges,” said Dr Max Gulde, CEO of ConstellR.

“We are keen to have our technology verified as soon as possible, and have identified the Bartolomeo Service not only as a very fast option, but also as the most flexible and cost-efficient way to do that. With Bartolomeo, Space has never been closer for us.”

Bartolomeo
(Credit ESA)

According to Airbus, Bartolomeo is suitable for multiple types of missions, including Earth observation, environmental and climate research, robotics, material sciences and astrophysics. Payloads ranging from 5-to-450kg can be accommodated on the module and launch slots are available on all service mission to the ISS, which occur roughly every three months. The platform can host up to 12 different payloads at any one time, providing optical data downlink capacity of one to two terabytes per day. Slots on the Bartolomeo module cost between €300,000 to €3.5m per year, according to the German space agency DLR.

“We are very pleased to see a growing interest in our Bartolomeo Service also for smaller payloads such as this one,” said Andreas Hammer, head of Space Exploration at Airbus.

“With a customer base that is a healthy mix between traditional space players and new entrants like ConstellR, we are coming a good step closer to our goal of making a space mission as easy as can be – for all our Bartolomeo customers.”