SMILE SXI Passes Critical Milestone

The SMILE SXI Instrument has recently passed the Instrument-level Critical Design Review (CDR), gaining approval from ESA technical experts to proceed with the build, test and delivery of the final space-flight hardware. 

SMILE (Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer) is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which aims to study the interaction between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere, as well as the impact of this interaction on the ionosphere. The SXI (soft X-ray imager) is one of four instrument and experiment packages on the SMILE spacecraft. 

The CDR is a crucial gate phase and marks the culmination of design and qualification activities for the novel X-ray imager. Instrument development is led by the University of Leicester with contributions from other UK and European academic and commercial institutes. AIV (Assembly, Integration and Verification) has now begun at the state-of-the-art facilities at Space Park Leicester. Instrument units will undergo vibration and thermal environmental testing starting in September before being shipped for Spacecraft integration. 

Launch from Kourou is planned for 2025 and coincides with a period of significant Solar activity. SXI will bring new data to understanding the complex interaction – and its day-to-day effects – of the Sun-Earth relationship.

It goes without saying that this has been a significant undertaking. The cast and crew of the Leicester team – listed below – should be very proud. Well done, everyone!

  • Andy Beardmore, Detector Scientist 
  • Chris Bicknell, Electrical Engineer 
  • Oliver, Blake, Software Test Engineer 
  • Charlotte Bouldin, Product Assurance 
  • Gillian Butcher, Optic Test Scientist 
  • Jenny Carter, Mission Scientist 
  • Andy Cheney, Chief Engineer 
  • Tony Crawford, Manufacturing Technician 
  • Charly Feldman, Optic Scientist 
  • Richard Hampson, Project Manager 
  • Graeme Hansford, Research Associate 
  • Paul Houghton, AIV Technician 
  • Matt Jones, Electrical Engineer 
  • Kjell Koch-Merin, Software and Data Analyst 
  • Cassie Lakin, Electrical Technician 
  • Steve Leach, Systems Engineer 
  • Anna Maskolenko, Mechanical Engineer Intern 
  • Simona Nitti, Research Associate 
  • Claudio Pagani, Detector Scientist 
  • Parthil Patel, Mechanical Engineer 
  • Jim Pearson, Optics Group Leader 
  • Andy Read, Instrument Scientist 
  • Ivor Reading, Research Associate 
  • Sunny Sachdev, Mechanical Engineer 
  • Steve Sembay, Principal Investigator 
  • Yasir Soobiah, PDRA 
  • Julian Thornhill, Electrical Engineer 
  • Adam White, Junior AIV Technician

(L-R) Chris Bicknell, Charlotte Bouldin and Andy Cheney completing final work on the SXI structural and thermal model prior to delivery to Airbus, Spain.

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