Successful review marks the end of an active year for ExoMars
15 December 2010The ExoMars programme has passed its System Preliminary Design Review, paving the way for the start of the implementation phase. At the final meeting of this review process, held on 13 December 2010, the review board expressed its confidence in the system design.
Participants at the final board meeting of the System Preliminary Design Review for the ExoMars programme
The System Preliminary Design Review (SPDR) is an Agency level review taking place at the end of the Phase B of a project; Phase B is where the basic design of the mission elements is established prior to entering the implementation phase.
The ExoMars SPDR took place at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. During the review technical experts from several space agencies along with independent experts analysed and assessed the current design of the two ExoMars missions (to be launched in 2016 and 2018).
The review process began on 21 October with a kick-off meeting at which the Prime Contractor, Thales Alenia Space-Italy, provided an introduction to the technical design status of both missions and to the documentation data package. Five technical panels, with about 100 reviewers supported by numerous specialists, assessed the technical documentation consisting of more than 500 documents. The panels provided their findings to the industrial team on 11 November and discussions then followed between the review team and the industrial team. The review process concluded on Monday 13 December with the final board meeting chaired by the ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, David Southwood, and ESA’s Inspector General, Jack Bosma.
"The participation of experts from different disciplines has allowed us to properly identify and address major design and performance drivers and to propose an optimised way forward," commented Alain Benoit, ESA’s Head of Control Systems Division and the Chair of the Mission System and Orbiter Module Panel for the ExoMars SPDR. "The cooperative spirit and dedication demonstrated by all parties involved facilitated very constructive discussions that contributed to the positive outcome of this review," he continued.
The ExoMars Prime Contractor Project Manager, Pasquale Santoro commented: "We are satisfied that the hard work of Industry has been validated by this review, and that we have been able to demonstrate the maturity of the project."
While the focus of the review was on the space segment (i.e. the Orbiter, the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module, and the Rover), the interfaces to the ground segment and the NASA-provided launch vehicles were also subject to the review activities.
The documentation delivered for the review, following the amendments by the board conclusions, constitutes the technical baseline for the financial proposal by the European industrial consortium for the upcoming implementation phase. This proposal is already in preparation and is planned to be delivered to ESA early in 2011. After ESA’s evaluation and successful negotiation of the proposal, the contract for the next phases (Phase C/D/E1) will be awarded to the Prime Contractor, Thales Alenia Space- Italy. During Phase C, the breadboard and qualification tests needed to support the design will be performed and all the plans for future activities will be refined. Phase C will culminate with the Critical Design Review, which will allow continuation and completion of the manufacturing, assembly, integration and test of flight hardware for ExoMars during phase D. Phase E covers the launch of each mission and the full deployment of its elements until the end of the programme.
The successful completion of this review marks the end of a very active year for ExoMars. In the twelve months since the ESA Council gave the green light to the ExoMars programme, a number of milestones have been passed, including the selection of the instrument payload for the Orbiter, the Announcement of Opportunity for the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module science, and the completion of the very important SPDR milestone. "It has been a very busy year for everyone involved in the ExoMars programme and we are happy to end the year on such a positive note", said Don McCoy, ESA’s ExoMars Project Manager.
The five technical panels for the ExoMars System Preliminary Design Review were:
Mission System and Orbiter Module, chaired by Alain Benoit, ESA
EDM, chaired by Thierry Blancquaert, ESA
Rover Module, chaired by Gianfranco Visentin, ESA
AIV and Payload, chaired by Gaetan Piret, ESA
Product Assurance and Planetary Protection, chaired by Lothar Winzer, ESA