The Hera mission is a part of AIDA (Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment), founded upon international cooperation between NASA and ESA, who are working together towards a single goal: to perform a demonstration mission that will deflect an asteroid’s orbit and thereby prevent its impact with Earth.
The first phase of the experiment was successful. In September 2022, the DART spacecraft from NASA impacted Dimorphos, smaller asteroid with size of approximately 170 m which is a part of a binary asteroid system Didymos (approximately 800 m in diameter). The DART hit Dimorphos at a speed of 6.6 km/s, and thus tried to change its orbital period. The impact was observed by ground observations from Earth, but with some help from a small CubeSat travelling on a board of DART. The small satellite was deployed just before the impact in order to provide front row-seat images of the collision.
Hera will launch in 2024. Her arrival to Dimorphos is currently planned for 2026. Hera will analyse the impact crater using various scientific instruments, and also will measure such properties of Dimorphos as mass and material composition. Hera will also carry two small CubeSats, known as MILANI and JUVENTAS, which will assist with the scientific observations.
OUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROJECT
The team at OHB Czechspace is developing the probe’s complete structure providing all necessary interfaces with scientific instruments and service devices, such as solar arrays, batteries, antennae, and computer, as well as the main interface with the rocket! Our engineering team is working on the design of structural components that will be able to survive the launch of the rocket and its flight while also withstanding the inhospitable environment in space. We must as well make sure that Hera and its components will be transported safely to various assembly places around Europe and eventually also to the spaceport.
The Hera mission schedule is very challenging and we are striving to move quickly! Asteroids will not wait for us, either.
In May 2022 OHB Czechspace delivered Central Tube as well as the Sandwich Panels for the Propulsion and Core Module.
The Prime contractor initiated Assembly, Integration and Test activities of the HERA propulsion module, which are also supported by OHB Czechspace deliveries of MGSE (Mechanical Ground Support Equipment) and tertiary structure items - e.g. Cleats or Helium tank brackets.
At the beginning of October 2022, representatives of the European Space Agency have been performing Satellite Critical Design Review of the Hera spacecraft, prepared by OHB System and supported by OHB Czechspace.
Hera is scheduled for launch in October 2024, due to reach the Didymos asteroids in December 2026.