archiv~1.txt: SETI [ASTRO] Mission To Mars To Revolutionize ESA's Working Methods

SETI [ASTRO] Mission To Mars To Revolutionize ESA's Working Methods

Larry Klaes ( )
Tue, 30 Mar 1999 13:34:24 -0500

>X-Authentication-Warning: majordom set sender
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>Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 17:39:27 GMT
>From: Ron Baalke <>
>Subject: [ASTRO] Mission To Mars To Revolutionize ESA's Working Methods
>Reply-To: Ron Baalke <>
>European Space Agency
>Press Release Nr. 12-99
>Paris, France 30 March 1999
>Mission to Mars set to revolutionise ESA's working methods
>The European Space Agency (ESA) today signed a contract with Matra Marconi
>Space (MMS), that pioneers a more flexible way of building space science
>missions and is, in this way, the first trial as an element of a new and
>ambitious implementation concept which is currently under development for
>the ESA's Scientific Programme. The contract, worth about 60 million Euro,
>is to design and build the Mars Express spacecraft in time for launch in
>June 2003. Mars Express will allow European space scientists to investigate
>whether there is, or ever was, life on the red planet.
>ESA took the decision in principle to send a mission to Mars shortly after
>the loss of the Russian spacecraft Mars '96 with several European
>experiments on board. The Agency wanted to build on the Mars '96 payload
>experience to design a mission that would put Europe at the leading-edge of
>Mars exploration. But ESA had to act quickly. Major space missions can take
>up to 11 years from concept to launch -- and there was little more than six
>years to go before the positioning of the planets in 2003 would offer the
>shortest travel time to Mars with the highest payload. Budgetary pressures
>were also forcing ESA to look for cheaper ways of building spacecraft. A
>Mars mission therefore seemed a good candidate to explore cheaper and faster
>working methods.
>Mars Express (so called because of the streamlined development time) is the
>first of a new type of "flexible" missions in ESA's long-term scientific
>programme, which should be built and launched for about half the previous
>budget for similar missions. The global budget for Mars Express will
>actually be only150 million Euro including spacecraft development, launch by
>a Russian Soyuz/Fregat launcher, operations, testing and management costs.
>Costs are being saved by shortening the time from original concept to
>launch, re-using existing hardware, adopting new project management
>practices, and having access to reduced launcher costs.
>Selection of the scientific payload by ESA's scientific advisory bodies and
>mission definition by industry have been performed simultaneously, instead
>of sequentially as in previous missions. This has cut the time from concept
>to the awarding of today's design and development contract from about five
>years to little more than one year. The design and development phase will
>take under four years, compared with up to six previously.
>Mars Express is making maximum use of pre-existing technology, which is
>either "off-the-shelf" or has already been developed for the Rosetta mission
>(also due for launch in 2003), which will land one small probe on a comet.
>This strategy, in fact, only works when a second mission, such as Mars
>Express, can use in a recurring manner, technology already applied in a
>previous mission, such as Rosetta. In future, ESA plans to develop new
>technologies needed for innovative and ambitious missions also in separate,
>small technology missions called SMART.
>It is indeed a totally new concept where Programme Cornerstones may now
>become industrial themes spanning over several missions. New technologies
>are first tested in a small technology mission, then applied in a major
>mission, whose design and hardware can be utilised in following flexible
>missions. An industrial cycle is created in this way that gives more launch
>opportunities and that will also allow implementation in the long term of a
>global and coherent industrial return for the participants.
>A further advantage of this concept applied to Mars Express is that
>commonalities with Rosetta and payload availability make it possible to
>streamline management methods by handing over more responsibility to
>industry. "European space industry is now sufficiently mature, thanks
>largely to previous experience with ESA missions, to take on these aspects
>of Mars Express as well as the associated risks", says Rudolf Schmidt, ESA
>Mars Express Project Manager. MMS, Toulouse, is therefore interacting
>directly with the principal investigators for the scientific payload and
>with possible launch suppliers to ensure that technical interfaces are
>compatible. "Before, ESA was taking the interface role. For Mars Express we
>have meetings directly with the scientists. This means that we can agree on
>the solution to any problem very rapidly," says Philippe Moulinier, Mars
>Express Spacecraft Manager at MMS, Toulouse.
>The use of previously-developed technology means that the number of models
>can be reduced without substantially increasing risk. This will also shorten
>the schedule and limit costs. "Before we were developing every new system.
>Now we are using off-the-shelf and Rosetta technology which means we can
>offer both low cost and low risk," says Moulinier.
>Mars Express was approved by the Science Programme Committee (SPC, the
>body that has ultimate power of decision over the scientific programme) on
>the condition that sufficient resources are available and there is no impact
>on already approved missions. The final approval by SPC for Mars Express,
>therefore, will have to take into account of the decisions to be taken at
>the meeting of space ministers in May regarding ESA's scientific programme
>For more information, please contact:
>ESA Public Relations Division
>Tel: +33(0) Fax: +33(0)
>For further information on Mars Express, see also ESA Information Note Nr.
>22-98 dated 19.06.1998 (at and surf the ESA
>science web pages at .