Press Release

QinetiQ’s space business secures ESA contract as new facility goes live

By SpaceRef Editor
November 21, 2019
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Continuing to consolidate its position as of one of Europe’s leading space systems integrators, QinetiQ’s space business has formally opened new state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities and secured a new three-year contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).  


The €9m contract with ESA will see QinetiQ developing a hosting facility and experiment modules, which will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in the first half of 2023. The Heat Transfer Host 2 (HOST2) facility will be operated inside the Columbus science laboratory on the ISS and will provide new scientific data and insight to optimise the performance and efficiency of heat transfer technologies.  


Award of the contract coincides with the opening of QinetiQ’s new €3m cleanroom in Kruibeke in Belgium, which was formally opened by Frank de Winne, the first European ISS Commander and head of European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. Designed to support the concurrent production of several satellites and docking stations, the large new facility complies with all of the stringent process specifications and requirements for the manufacture of space equipment.  It also features laboratories and innovative robotic capabilities for simulation of all possible docking scenarios between a space vehicle and the ISS.


“We’re positioned for an exciting new phase of growth,” says Jim Graham, Managing Director of QinetiQ’s Space business.  “Although we are already recognised as a world leader in electronic propulsion systems and space systems integration, we’re continuing to build on our strengths and specialist skills. The new ESA contract capitalises on our expertise in complex systems integration and the successful delivery of highly sophisticated scientific experiments in orbit. And our new cleanroom facility represents a significant investment in our space capabilities for future satellite production, ongoing developments of new subsystems and space infrastructure as well as further innovations in spacecraft docking technologies.” 


A key objective of ESA’s HOST2 programme is to demonstrate that the heat transfer rate on curvilinear surfaces is significantly larger than on smooth surfaces and that more complicated surface geometry can deliver much higher levels performance. The results of the study will be of particular significance for the condenser applications of heat pipes, chillers and air-conditioners. The performance of printing technologies, nano-coatings, DNA mapping and other similar industrial applications are also expected to benefit from the scientific data obtained from HOST2.


From ground-breaking initiatives in Solar Electronic Propulsion Systems and the successful development of the PROBA satellites to pioneering programmes in the design and delivery of advanced satellite technologies, QinetiQ is one of Europe’s leading space systems integrators. Working with governments, space agencies, prime contractors and SMEs, QinetiQ’s experience in the space sector spans over half a century. There are more than 250 engineers and specialist technicians in the company’s space business, which has been involved directly in over 100 space missions.


SpaceRef staff editor.