SPICA spacecraft
SPICA spacecraft. Credit: ESA.

ABB Canada Receives $2 Million Contract for SPICA Astronomy Mission

The Canadian Space Agency has awarded ABB Canada a $2 million contract to develop a cryogenic scanning mirror up to TRL5 for the potential SPICA mission.

The Space Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA) mission is jointly led by JAXA and European Space Agency (ESA). At this time the SPICA mission is in the phase A stage.

It is in competition with two other concepts as ESA’s fifth medium class mission in its Cosmic Vision science program.

The other candidates are the Transient High Energy Sky and Early Universe Surveyor (Theseus) and the EnVision mission to Venus. The final selection is expected in 2021.

When the contract award was posted to the government procurement website SpaceQ inquired as to what it was for. It is a sole-source contract and the CSA said it “will advance and position Canadian technology for the proposed Space Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA) mission, jointly led by JAXA and ESA. Under this contract, ABB (will) advance a cryogenic scanning mirror mechanism (up to TRL5) that could be part of the SPICA Far-infrared instrument (SAFARI), one of the mission’s two potential science instruments.”

The CSA further stated “this mechanism would enable the mirrors of a spectrometer to move in order to modify the optical path length. The main tasks of this project will be to improve the mechanism design so that it can survive the launch vibrations, cryogenic temperatures, compensate for micro-vibration disturbances while maintaining positional stability and knowledge of its position. Also, the heat dissipation of the mechanism must be limited to a stringent thermal budget to be compatible with the SAFARI instrument.”

SPICA – a joint infrared space observatory Mission overview and status by Peter Roelfsema (May 13, 2019)

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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