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European Space Agency Missions

(Author: Dr William Crofts, School of Engineering)


'Student-Designed Space Technology’

(See Warwick ESMO team website for up-to-date information)

This project is derived from the Educational Projects Division of the European Space Agency (ESA), and their objective is to run a series of high-level, collaborative projects that culminate in a student-built satellite being launched via either a Soyuz or Ariane rocket. Missions completed or in planning stages are as follows,

Mission 0:
SSETI Express was launched into a Low Earth Orbit in October 2005. The satellite served as a technological demonstration and as a test bed for some of the hardware that will be used for ESEO.

Mission 1:
The European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) should be launched directly into a geo-stationary transfer orbit using an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, the launch is planned for the end of 2008.

Mission 2:
The European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO) commenced in 2006 and the Phase A feasibility study was completed in 2008. The mission is now entering Phase B - simulation/modelling/prototyping - with a probable launch date in 2012.

Mission 3:
The next step, after a possible Moon orbiter, would be a Moon lander mission, i.e. to land a Moon Rover that would explore the Moon.

Warwick ESMO are the primary team responsible for designing and building the electrical power supply system for the ESA ESMO satellite. This includes

  • Solar Panel technology to generate sufficient electrical energy whilst in flight,
  • Storage and control of electrical charge to maintain electrical systems when the satellite is in eclipse,
  • Control and distribution of electrical supply to maintain the quality of electrical supply to all sub-system devices.

Each academic year a team of nine 4th Year MEng students take over from the previous 4th Year team to continue work on the ESMO project. Many of them have worked on a related individual 3rd Year project prior to moving into the main team. Their areas of work activities include;

Sponsorship Raising, Budget Management, Publicity/Website, Liaison with ESA and Sponsoring Company experts as well as other Sub-system teams, Solar Cell Interface Research, Optimum Power Supply Design for Space Applications, Electrical Energy Storage, Power Quality – conditioning/distribution, Systems Simulation & Integration, Materials, Modelling of Battery Characteristics, etc.

This is an exceptional project for highly motivated students. The benefit to students of being involved with such a high-level project, and liasing with organisations such as the European Space Agency, high-tech companies, and other university teams across Europe is considerable. The project team is now also becoming more postgraduate as PhD students are recruited to the Power Electronics Research Group to deal with the higher-level research aspects of this project. Team details and general updates on project progress can be found on the ESMO website.

Notice posted: 11-09-2008


SSETI Express Launch

SSETI Express Satellite

Satellite in Anechroic Chamber

Inspecting Launch Adapter

Ariane 5 ESA Lift Off


Complete Rocket Assembly