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Life on Mars

Dutch-based Aerospace Propulsion Products (APP) has invited Fike to submit a proposal for the development and supply of the European Space Agency “ESA” ExoMars 2018 Parachute Deployment Device (PDD) burst disc.

Today we have succeeded and have received the order for supply of the mission-parts.

The first ExoMars mission arrived at the Red Planet in October 2016, the second mission is scheduled to complete construction for a 2020 launch. During the first mission, the mission management spoke of a rough landing of the Schiaparelli lander, while the Schiaparelli’s mother ship, the Trace Gas Orbiter – safely entered into Mars orbit and is currently performing.

What went wrong with Schiaparelli has now been understood and a report on the findings is available on the ESA web site. Several recommendations to improve the EDL robustness are now being implemented within the ExoMars 2020 project. Knowing the cause of the failure is important because the Schiaparelli was designed as a precursor to a more ambitious rover mission planned for 2020.

The scheduled 2020 mission of the ExoMars program will deliver a European Rover and a Russian surface platform to the surface of Mars. Just as in 2016 a Russian Proton launcher will be used, with the actual equipment arriving to Mars after a nine-month journey. The ExoMars Rover will travel on the Martian surface to search for signs of (previous) life. It will collect samples with a drill and analyze them with next-generation instruments. ExoMars will be the first mission to combine the capability to move across the surface and to study Mars at depth.

What is Fike’s role in the whole 2020 story? “We received a first request in September 2014. The first 15 bursting discs were delivered in December 2014. Now in 2017 we will deliver 163 bursting discs to Aerospace Propulsion Systems of which two will be used in the PDD. These bursting discs will be used on a gas generator or cartridge of a PDD, which will deploy the parachute that slows down the descent module during Mars atmospheric entry. The primary function of the burst disc is to provide a controlled opening of the propellant chamber. Secondary functions are to close-off the propellant chamber in order to keep the propellant bag in place, opening without defragmentation and withstand environmental loads during all stages of the mission,” explains Elvis Vangeel, Application Engineer PR and PEP.

“It’s not the biggest project in numbers, but it is in prestige. We believe this order will have a strong impact on the image of Fike in the aerospace industry,” said Elvis.

We would like to congratulate the Fike Europe team involved,  and are sure they will remain focused on customers’ expectations and will apply all of Fike’s experiences to ensure satisfaction is achieved at all for all involved. Soon we will be able to claim that Fike services Martian soil.

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