EADS Astrium has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop and build three satellites for the Swarm mission. The satellites, worth approximately €86 million, will be manufactured within 48 months.
The Swarm mission will provide the most detailed data yet on the geomagnetic
field and its temporal evolution, giving new insights into improving our
knowledge of the Earth's interior and climate. The three Swarm spacecraft
are scheduled for launch in 2010.
The Swarm constellation will comprise three satellites in three different
polar orbits - two flying side by side at an altitude of 450 km and a third
at an altitude of 530 km. High-precision and high-resolution measurements of
the strength, direction and variations of the Earth's magnetic field,
complemented by precise navigation, accelerometer and electric field
measurements, will provide valuable data essential for modelling the
geomagnetic field. The results will offer a unique view from space inside
the Earth, and enable the composition and processes of the interior to be
studied in detail.
"We are very proud that ESA has placed its confidence in us for this
mission. EADS Astrium, in particular at Friedrichshafen, has a long and
successful track record in designing and developing magnetically clean
systems, and in the UK at Stevenage has an equally impressive record in
producing satellite structures and propulsion systems." said Dr. Reinhold
Lutz, EADS Astrium's Vice President for Earth Observation, Navigation and
This mission will also enable analysis of the Sun's influence on the Earth.
In addition, it is expected that Swarm will have practical benefits
including better forecasting of radiation hazards in space, and improved
navigation and exploration for new resources on Earth.
EADS Astrium will set up a German-UK team for Swarm. The Friedrichshafen
site will be prime contractor for the project, prepare the electrical design
of the satellites, procure the instruments and finally assume overall
responsibility for the satellites. EADS Astrium UK will be responsible for
the propulsion system, structure, mechanical and thermal development,
mechanisms (including the deployable boom with the key scientific
instruments) and pre-integration of the satellites. Most of the work will be
carried out in Stevenage with some specialist skills coming from the
As early as in the late seventies, the Friedrichshafen-based Astrium
developed ISEE-B, a satellite for magnetic field research in far-Earth
space. Advances continued with the four-satellite Cluster formation
operating in space since 2000, the year which also saw the launch of the low
Earth orbit Champ satellite, developed according to an Astrium design.
>From a technical point of view, Champ and Cryosat are direct predecessors of
Swarm. EADS Astrium has therefore been able to build on the proven
technology of these projects for system design, specific sub-systems as well
as test facilities and procedures.
Swarm is the next logical step in magnetic field research taking over from
the Champ mission which is due to finish at the end of 2008.