ESA's Hera planetary defense mission signs prime contractor, on course for launch in 2024 - NASASpaceflight.com
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The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a design, manufacturing, and testing contract with OHB of Germany for their Hera planetary defense mission, marking a major advancement toward the agency’s commitment to NASA for their joint Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment project

NASA’s portion is scheduled to launch in July 2021 and slam into the smaller of the target binary asteroid in October 2022.  Hera will then follow, launching in 2024 on an Ariane 6 and arriving at the binary pair in 2027 to assess how well its predecessor did in changing the orbit of its target

Excluded from the OBH contract are the other deals already in place for the two CubeSats that will accompany Hera to the target binary asteroid and the long-lead technology items for the mission — contracts that are already underway. 

Unlike the first part of the joint Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment project from NASA, an impactor called DART, Hera will not impact either of the bodies of the target but rather perform long-term observations from a close orbit while demonstrating new technologies, particularly for autonomous deep space proximity operations

While Hera will not be able to do that first part, most of the Asteroid Impact Mission’s objectives can be accomplished with LICIACube and Hera’s long-term in situ observations that can begin upon its arrival in 2027


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