STEVENAGE, UK - Airbus has successfully completed the In-Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter spacecraft, by the teams working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At 165 million km away from Earth, Solar Orbiter is definitely keeping its social distance, but its commissioning presented a challenge to the teams who would normally work together in the office to complete the IOCprocess. Instead, under the leadership of Airbus project Manager Ian Walters, the team met online at least once a day to make sure the process was tackled quickly and efficiently.
ESA confirms that the IOC has been completed on time by the Airbus prime team and it is believed that this is the first “virtual” ESA Mission Commissioning Results Review (MCRR).
Immediately after launch from Cape Canaveral on 10th February 2020 Airbus began closely monitoring the spacecraft, testing all systems, all the spare units and the 10 instruments including the Solar Wind Plasma Analyser (SWA) which will measure the solar winds’ properties and composition.
Checks were carried out to verify that the next phase of the mission could start and that ESA’s Operations Center (ESOC) was ready to take full control of the mission.