EDS' Collaborative Product Development Software Drives Design of European Space Agency's Mars Express Beagle 2 Lander

Press Release From: EDS
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Unigraphics and Teamcenter Engineering Software Key To Development of First European Spacecraft Scheduled To Land On Another Planet

LONDON -- EDS today announced its collaborative product development product lifecycle management (PLM) software has driven the design of the Entry, Descent and Lander System (EDLS) for the Beagle 2 Mars lander, which will carry the principal experiments payload in next year's European Space Agency Mars Express space mission.

The Mars Express spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from Baikonur, in Kazakhstan, in May 2003 atop a Soyuz/Fregat rocket for its six month journey to the red planet. On board the Mars Express will be the Beagle 2 lander, named to celebrate Charles Darwin's voyage, which led to the writing of On The Origin Of Species. Beagle 2's mission is to search for signs of life on Mars and to conduct geochemical/atmospheric analyses.

Beagle 2 is a UK-led project operating as a joint academia/industry consortium and is steered through the mutual cooperation of the Open University, the University of Leicester and Astrium Limited -- formerly known as Matra Marconi Space (UK).

Design Challenges

Several days before the Mars Express goes into orbit around Mars to carry out remote sensing observations of the planet, Beagle 2 will be ejected from the spacecraft and sent on a trajectory towards the Martian atmosphere.

From here on, Beagle 2 will be on its own -- looking after itself in terms of stability, power, thermal control and entry sequencing. The three-stage Entry, Descent and Lander System (EDLS) is therefore a crucial element of the lander package containing the mission payload.

Among the design team's challenges, according to lead designer Paul Kemshall, was the need to keep within Beagle 2's extremely demanding mass, size and form constraints of 900mm maximum diameter, 550mm depth and 73kg maximum mass -- around half the typical size and mass of previous space mission landers.

Others were the limited human and financial resources available for the project -- especially at the outset -- coupled with the need to deliver the finished product in January 2003 in order to meet the scheduled launch date in May.

"In a nutshell," says Kemshall, "our challenge was to complete our task faster, cheaper and better than any previous similar project. We therefore relied heavily on the collaborative design, engineering and manufacturing facilities provided by EDS' Unigraphics product development software and their Teamcenter Engineering product data management software to reduce design time and keep the project on track.

"The EDS system has enabled us to share design information across different design and engineering disciplines and to collaborate effectively with people working on other aspects of Beagle 2, within a concurrent engineering environment."

During the development process, the EDS software was used extensively to calculate mass properties, determine moments of inertia and centre of gravity and perform structural analysis of individual components so as to arrive at the optimum design in terms of strength and weight. It was also used to create a `virtual' model of the complete spacecraft in order to ensure that every component and sub-assembly fitted and operated correctly, before anything was actually manufactured.

With the design work complete, Beagle 2 has now reached the manufacturing stage. And while some components are off-the-shelf, the majority need to be specially manufactured. These are being produced by a number of Beagle 2 sub-contractors which, wherever possible, are using the Unigraphics 3D design data directly in such manufacturing processes as numerical control (NC) machine tool path programming for a variety of machining techniques. This is helping to ensure that precisely what was designed is what is manufactured.

With everything on schedule for delivery of Beagle 2 in January next year and blast off in May, not only will ESA's Mars Express be the first European mission to Mars, Beagle 2 will be the first European spacecraft to land on another planet.

For more information on Beagle 2 visit

About EDS EDS, the leading global services company, provides strategy, implementation and hosting for clients managing the business and technology complexities of the digital economy. EDS brings together the world's best technologies to address critical client business imperatives. It helps clients eliminate boundaries, collaborate in new ways, establish their customers' trust and continuously seek improvement. EDS, with its management-consulting subsidiary, A.T. Kearney, serves the world's leading companies and governments in 60 countries. EDS reported revenues of $21.5 billion in 2001. The company's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: EDS) and the London Stock Exchange.

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