MATRA Marconi Space has completed the structural test model of the Envisat Earth-observation polar platform for the European Space Agency (ESA).
The model, designed to prove the structural integrity of the spacecraft under launch conditions, is built to full flight standards, complete with dummy units representing the Envisat's electronics, payload and systems. The main payload structure of the model will be refurbished after the tests, for the final Envisat flight model now scheduled, to be launched on an Ariane 5, in June 1999.
ESA is still looking for savings on the Envisat programme, spending for which at one point was some 9% over the 1.8 billion ECU ($2.3 billion) budget. Savings so far identified amount to some 61 million ECUs, leaving a shortfall of 27 million ECUs. Among areas being looked at for possible savings are the launch preparations, streamlining of project management and even a waiving of some performance, demands for the spacecraft
Source: Flight International