QinetiQ has been awarded a $37.3 million contact by EADS Astrium. The contract calls for QinetiQ to furnish the European Space Agency’s BepiColombo satellite mission with a solar-electric propulsion system. The mission to Mercury is slated to launch in 2014.
Taking into account Mercury’s gravitational pull, the firm plans to install a system which consists of four T6 ion thrusters and several planetary gravity-assist maneuvers. These will work to take advantage of Venus’ gravity to swing towards its destination.
Mike Healy, director of Earth observation, navigation and science for Astrium said, “As the industrial prime contractor for the spacecraft, Astrium selected QinetiQ on the basis of the company’s world leading capability in this field.”