Is the space technical feasibility of the satellite really acquired, since when ? And under which technical expertise is it organised ?
The first study proving the technical feasibility of KEO goes back to 1997.
The schedule of conditions linked to the KEO project is specified explicitly that:
· The KEO mission consists in bringing back to Earth within 50.000 years; with the necessary payload including crystal discs and additional material , together with instructions for the retrieval of data to our future descendants.
· As a passive satellite it will come back to Earth with a free re-entry into the atmosphere, responding to the pressure of solar radiation, lunar and planetary gravitation attractions of its orbit.
· KEO has to resist to the erosion of time and hostile environment and temperature variations due to crossing the dense atmospheric layers during its re-entry towards Earth. It has to ensure if necessary its buoyancy (d<1) and preserve the integrity of its payload until its recovery by our descendants.
· The KEO mission success- probability should at least be equivalent to the space exploratory missions conducted at the moment by the various world space agencies (higher than 80%).
This first technical study, fulfilling each and every specification, has been revised four times, thus enabling the KEO satellite to benefit from the latest developments in space techniques.
The satellite mass was lightened from the initial weight of 172kg, to less than 100 Kg in its latest version, including the ejection system.
The KEO technical dossier is today under the technical responsibility of the European Space Agency.
More precisely, to be recalled that:
- Two fruitful years brought about the first demonstration of KEO’s feasibility, which was carried out by the engineers of Aerospatiale associated with the SupAero students in July 1997.
- The technical dossier was presented to space engineer specialists and international experts attending the 48th “ International Astronautical Congress ”, organized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Turin in October 1997 (cf. Abstract IAA-97-IAA.8.2.07)
- This first communication was endorsed the following year – during the 49 th “International Astronautical Congress ” held in September-October 1998 in Melbourne - by a new communication which brought the irrefutable scientific proof, of the preservation of the supports, storing the messages carried aboard KEO. (cf. Abstract IAA-98-IAA.8.2.07)
- During the following years, following the mergers within the European space industry, the KEO technical design was revalidated and optimised successively by Aerospatiale- Matra, EADS and the CNES (the French Space Agency)
- Today, the final technical design is under the ESA responsibility (European Space Agency), which, having in its turn revalidated the former files, confirmed in the conclusions of the technical studies addressed to Jean-Marc Philippe by Mr RenéOosterlinck- Director of External Relations of ESA in a letter dated November 30.2005 , that “ KEO is a passive satellite of straightforward design….., that its mass is around 100 kg (including 70kg for the satellite itself ,together with an ejection system of about 10 kg). Moreover that KEO is feasible within 24 months as from the decision ofmanufacturing .”