Comet Interceptor

So far, spacecrafts have only encountered and explored short-period comets. However, these comets have made multiple trips around the Sun, altering their original appearance. Consequently, the European Space Agency (ESA) has chosen the Comet Interceptor mission to study a pristine comet. Such a comet, making its first approach to the inner Solar System, promises invaluable insights into its early stages (dating back 4.6 billion years).

©Thales Alenia Space (artist impression)

The classification of the project as 'F-class' in ESA's mission categorisation means that we have much less time than usual for engineering activities. Together with the assembly of the comet dust shield, this is a significant technical challenge that the OHB Czechspace engineering team was eager to take on.

Daniel Rohel, Head of Engineering

Yet, identifying pristine comets poses a challenge as they have not yet been detected. Observation becomes possible only when they fly close to the Sun, by which time it's too late to launch a mission. As a solution, the Comet Interceptor spacecraft will be stationed at Lagrange point 2, poised to intercept and explore a pristine comet once it makes its debut in the inner Solar System.

The mission features a trio of spacecrafts—a main body and two probes—each armed with cutting-edge scientific instruments. Together, they'll capture a 3D profile of the comet, studying its core, gas, dust, and plasma environment from multiple angles.


Our involvement in the project

OHB Czechspace is proud to play a key role in the Comet Interceptor mission. We contribute with engineering activities to the spacecraft structure with a focus on the structural analysis of sandwich panels, tertiary structure items like brackets and supports, and all the necessary inserts and fasteners.

Moreover, OHB Czechspace is responsible for the AIT (Assembly, Integration, and Test) of a crucial dust shield, designed to protect the satellite from the comet's dust.

©OHB Italia


Important milestones

The Comet Interceptor satellite will launch in 2029 alongside the ARIEL space telescope on a single rocket, embarking on a mission to uncover the secrets of a pristine comet.

©ESA (artist impression of ‘Oumuamua)


Our customer is OHB System, the so-called prime contractor for the Comet Interceptor mission is OHB Italia.

The mission is led by the European Space Agency (ESA) in cooperation with the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). ESA is leading the development of the main spacecraft and one of two probes including scientific instruments. JAXA will provide the other probe and its payload.

Comet Interceptor is part of ESA's Cosmic Vision programme and belongs to the "F-class" category - a fast mission that is expected to take just 8 years to implement.


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