For the Very First Time, Two Spacecraft Will Fly in Formation With Millimeter Precision
Apr. 16, 2013 — Spanish industry is leading the Proba-3 mission, a world first in precise formation flying. This European Space Agency (ESA) project aims to demonstrate that two satellites can move as one single object with sub-millimetre precision. This configuration will enable the creation of enormous space telescopes with the lens and detector hundreds of metres apart.
The new mission includes two satellites weighing approximately 340 kg and 200 kg. They will be launched in 2017 -several launchers are being evaluated, including one from India and another from the US- and they will travel jointly attached together until they separate in a highly-eccentric orbit. Their nearest point, the perigee, will only be 600 km from Earth. Every time they pass through this zone they will be in free flight, but under well controlled trajectories.
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Sources: Plataforma SINC, AlphaGalileo, and ScienceDaily.com .
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