Integrated Communication Subsystems

The newest scientific missions from ESA require a consortium of so-called subsystem primes that are collaborating with the overall mission prime to develop the different subsystems (e.g. propulsion, payload, Communications…) of the Spacecraft.

Antwerp Space has been awarded with multiple contracts for the communication subsystems, due to the specific in-house expertise with complex RF technology and flight projects. Current projects are EXOMARS 2020 and JUICE, both deep space missions that will respectively target Mars and Jupiter.

EXOMARS (Exobiology on Mars) is a Space programme consisting of two missions to orbit around and land on Mars, executed in cooperation by ESA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. The first mission called ExoMars 2016, consisting of an orbiter and a lander, was launched on 14 March 2016 and arrived at Mars in October 2016. The second mission is scheduled for a launch in 2020. It includes a surface platform that will actually land on the planet and a rover that will explore the Martian surface

JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) is the first large-class mission in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. The JUICE spacecraft will provide a thorough investigation of the Jupiter system in all its complexity with emphasis on the three potentially ocean-bearing ‘Galilean’ moons: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, and their potential habitability. It will be the first spacecraft ever to orbit a moon (Ganymede) of a giant planet.

The communication subsystem will enable the communication link with Earth during these missions. It includes basically a deep-space transponder, X- and if necessary Ka-band high power amplifiers (TWTAs) and a Radio Frequency Distribution Assembly (RFDA) that directs the signal towards the antennas. It can also incorporate several radio-science experiments if requested by the customer.

Antwerp Space is responsible for designing, integrating and testing these Communication Subsystem, before it is installed onto the spacecraft. The detailed design and manufacturing of the different units is subcontracted to different companies in Europe, under the capable supervision of Antwerp Space.

Thanks to these important contracts on major ESA missions, Antwerp Space is establishing itself as a trustful and reliable partner able to participate at a higher system level, and to handle the responsibilities that come with it.