Ashington firm to help on space mission

Geoff Thompson, Aavid Thermacore Europe vice president sales and marketing. Picture by Simon Williams / Crest Photography
Geoff Thompson, Aavid Thermacore Europe vice president sales and marketing. Picture by Simon Williams / Crest Photography

An Ashington firm’s cool new technology is proving to be out of this world.

Aavid Thermacore Europe Ltd has landed a contract with the European Space Agency’s latest solar satellite which will capture spectacular images of the Sun.

The Solar Orbiter will be cooled by the k-Core Annealed Pyrolytic Graphite technology (APG) as it orbits the Sun.

The satellite is due to take off for the Sun in October 2018, on a mission to reveal more of its secrets through atmospheric measurements and high-resolution images.

Aavid Thermacore is one of 10 UK companies involved in a contract valued at £256million.

The satellite will orbit within 43million kilometres of the Sun’s surface where temperatures reach 5,500 Celsius.

Aavid Thermacore will assist in the design and manufacture of two radiators for the Solar Orbiter programme. These radiators will dissipate the heat generated by the spacecraft’s electronics to cooler points on the perimeter of the satellite.

The company is also developing solid conduction bars which will take heat from sensitive areas of the satellite to the radiators.

Geoff Thompson, Aavid Thermacore vice president sales and marketing, said: “The contract is a high-profile win for our business.

“The key benefit our k-Core technology brings is the ability to provide a product which basically has the same weight, strength and structural performance as aluminium, but with a huge increase in thermal performance.”

“The other main advantage is that k-Core can be used in applications where there are major issues with gravity and acceleration.

“So for example, in aerospace, where a Typhoon fighter will pull 9G in a steep climb or dive, a standard heat pipe with water inside will not function very well – whereas k-Core will not be affected at all.”

The Solar Orbiter is due to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in October 2018 and will take three-and-a-half years to reach its operational orbit around the Sun. The launch will be aboard a NASA-provided launch vehicle.

Its seven-year mission will measure solar waves, winds and energy particles through cutting-edge instruments on board.

The Solar Orbiter will also send back the highest resolution images ever taken of the Sun, giving scientists new insights into the Sun’s 11-year cycle of sunspots and flare activity.