ann2003 — Announcement

ESA-Built Hardware on Hubble Reaches 1 Million Degree Slew Milestone

5 March 2020

The power for the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's scientific discoveries comes from solar cells. Designing and constructing Hubble's first two sets of solar cell arrays, and the accompanying Solar Array Drive Mechanism (SADM) and Solar Array Drive Electronics (SADE), constituted a huge technological achievement for the European Space Agency (ESA) and European industry. After an in-orbit life of more than 10 years, the ESA-built solar arrays were replaced by new, more powerful arrays. However, ESA’s SADM and SADE, which control the telescope’s current solar arrays, are still on board and under ESA purview. They are among the telescope’s oldest subsystems.

In December 2019, the accumulated slew angles of the SADM had reached 1 000 000 degrees of travel. This travel began accumulating on this day 18 years ago, 5 March 2002, when ESA’s solar arrays were replaced during the Space Shuttle Servicing Mission 3B.

“This milestone is a special occasion to recognise that after all of these years of operation, the SADM  and SADE are still functioning perfectly without any sign of degradation. It's a fantastic achievement,” said Lothar Gerlach, former ESA project manager for the European hardware onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. “The SADM and SADE have greatly exceeded their design life, and we are very proud  they are still a key part of Hubble scientific operations”


The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international co-operation between ESA and NASA.
The ESA Hubble Space Telescope solar arrays have been provided to the European Space Agency by Astrium (UK/Germany — formerly British Aerospace, United Kingdom, AEG/Telefunken and Dornier — now Airbus, Germany), and Oerlikon Contraves Space (Switzerland).


Bethany Downer
ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany

About the Announcement



Hubble Space Telescope sporting new solar arrays during SM3B
Hubble Space Telescope sporting new solar arrays during SM3B

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