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Missions planning - a history

Arial 5
(Credit: NASA)

RAL has considerable experience in satellite mission planning and operations, spanning more than 30 years, including Ariel V, AMPTE-UKS, IRAS and ISO.

Ariel 5 was a joint USA / UK project dedicated to monitoring the X-ray sky. It was launched on 15 October 1974 and the mission lasted for more than 5 years.

AMPTE UK satellite

The AMPTE United Kingdom Satellite (AMPTE-UKS) was part of the Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracer Explorer (AMPTE) mission.

AMPTE-UKS was a small UK satellite, designed and built in three years and acting as an adaptor, linking the other two larger AMPTE spacecraft. AMPTE was launched on 16 August 1984; AMPTE-UKS ceased operations on 15 January 1985.

Infra-red Astronomical Satellite (IRAS)
(Credit: IPAC)

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was a joint American, Dutch and British project. IRAS was launched in January 1983 and made an all-sky survey in the infrared. It was operational for 10 months, until the liquid helium coolant ran out. IRAS was controlled from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Infra-red Space Observatory (ISO)
(Credit: ESA)

The ESA satellite, Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) was launched in November 1995 and operated for almost 30 months, until the liquid helium coolant ran out. Staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory were part of three of the international teams operating the satellite at the ground station at Villafranca near Madrid.

STEREO Satellites
(Credit: NASA)

The Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellites were both launched on the 26th October 2006 and still continue to operate and take pictures of the sun at all times. This was a NASA lead mission in which RAL took part in the design, development and operation of the heliospheric imagers.

Other RAL Space Operations Projects

Last updated: 03 March 2016


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