Redwire Space assembles and tests ESA solar satellite


Kruibeke-based aerospace engineering company Redwire Space is working on a satellite that ESA will use to study the Sun in 2024.

In mid-2024, the European Space Agency ESA will be launching the Proba-3 satellite to study the Sun, specifically its corona, which is its extremely hot outer layer. Actually, it is not one, but two satellites that will be shooting through space in elongated orbit around the Earth in formation at speeds ranging from 3,600 to 36,000 km/hour. After a month, they will disconnect and fly in perfect synchronisation to a distance between 600 and 60,000 km from Earth.

The smaller of the two, the Occulter, is recognisable as a round disk, while the larger of the two carries a coronagraph, a telescope to observe the Sun's rim in detail. This is made possible by permanently provoking an artificial solar eclipse. In a natural eclipse, the Moon only briefly stands between the Sun and the Earth every so often. During this mission, the Occulter, or the Moon, will be exactly 150 m from the coronagraph, or the Earth. Everything down to the millimetre. Only then does the shadow of the round disk fall precisely into the camera on the large satellite and is the permanent eclipse achieved.

Currently, all components are still being tested separately and the entire interior assembled. Everything is done in the company's clean room, in a perfectly clean environment, which is an absolute requirement in the aerospace industry.