Advanced space technology enabling 2024 ESCAPADE mission to Mars
by Simon Mansfield
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 28, 2023
Advanced Space, an industry frontrunner in the creation of cutting-edge space technology, is set to make significant strides in deep space and planetary exploration through its collaboration with the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL).
The partnership centers around NASA's forthcoming Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission, scheduled for launch in late 2024. The ambitious mission to Mars is positioned to augment our understanding of space weather effects, paving the way for future extraterrestrial exploration.
The management and operational lead for the ESCAPADE mission will be under the stewardship of UC Berkeley, reflecting the institution's prominent role in space science. This groundbreaking mission falls under NASA's Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program, designed to promote exploration of the solar system in an economical and efficient manner.
The ESCAPADE mission will deploy two small spacecraft, named BLUE and GOLD in a nod to UC Berkeley's traditional colors. The twin probes will study Mars' magnetosphere, making simultaneous observations from two different positions, a first for any mission. The scheduled launch is on a Blue Origin New Glenn rocket with an anticipated Mars arrival in September 2025. This will result in the unprecedented establishment of a formation of two spacecraft in orbit around a planet other than Earth.
With a primary science mission duration of 11 months, the ESCAPADE journey, bolstered by Advanced Space's technology, aims to delve deeper into the composition of Mars' atmosphere and its interaction with the space environment. This endeavor hopes to uncover new insights into space weather's effects on Mars, enriching the human understanding of extraterrestrial climatic phenomena and providing valuable information for NASA's future Mars expeditions.
The mission has been years in the making, with Advanced Space and UC Berkeley collaborating since 2016. Dr. Robert Lillis, Mission Principal Investigator of UC Berkeley SSL, praised Advanced Space, stating, "We've worked with Advanced Space all the way back to 2016 on the ESCAPADE concept through many iterations. We couldn't be happier with the rigor, responsiveness, and creativity they have consistently shown."
Dr. Jeffrey Parker, Advanced Space CTO and ESCAPADE mission design lead, added to Dr. Lillis' remarks, stating that their team will persist in developing innovative technology to spur groundbreaking mission designs. Advanced Space's commitment to pushing the boundaries of exploration without sacrificing sustainability resonates through this partnership, setting a promising precedent for future missions.
Given the technical complexity of the ESCAPADE mission, Advanced Space took the reins in devising the mission design. This includes the interplanetary cruise, orbital design, and the post-launch Earth-orbit strategy. Collaborating with other members of the mission team, they also developed navigation capabilities to avert any collision with Mars, aligning with NASA's guidelines for planetary protection.
The innovation and expertise brought to the table by Advanced Space are set to help the ESCAPADE mission mark a new era in scientific missions to Mars. The mission promises high capability at a fraction of the cost of previous Mars orbiters, redefining the economic feasibility of space exploration.