Space engineers from India work with University of Leicester for first national astronomy satellite

India's first national Astronomy satellite- Astrosat- is to have key components assembled by the University of Leicester,

A team of engineers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, has arrived at the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre to progress work on the satellite which is due for launch in 2009.

The team, who will be in Leicester until Friday 6th February, will work on the next phase of the mission, when hardware manufactured in India arrives in Leicester for inspection, testing and assembly into a space qualified X-ray camera.

Guy Peters, Astrosat SXT Project Manager UK, said: "In several months, when the camera has been assembled and the Leicester built detector assembly and control electronics installed, it will be tested to space qualified standards and shipped back to India for integration into the spacecraft."

Mr Sangam Sinha from the Tata Institute added: "Astrosat is critical to the Indian space programme as it is the first satellite entirely dedicated to the pursuit of science. Astrosat also forms the beginning of a long term collaboration between TIFR and the University of Leicester through which it is hoped that many more missions will be undertaken jointly by the Indian and UK teams."

Astrosat will carry five instruments to observe exotic objects such as black holes, neutron stars, and active galaxies at a number of different wavelengths simultaneously, from the ultraviolet band to energetic x-rays.

The camera was designed by the University of Leicester and the manufacture of the hardware components was undertaken by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. In addition to the manufacture of the camera hardware, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research has built the main telescope body and mirror. The University of Leicester is to assemble the camera, support the project through consultancy and calibrate the camera at the Space Research Centre.

The University of Leicester Space Research Centre was asked to undertake the SXT camera development because of its track record in spacecraft design, in missions such as Swift and XMM-Newton and the experience gained from its CCD laboratory programmes.

The delegation from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research currently visiting Leicester includes:

Mr. Sangam Sinha – Chief Engineer - Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.Mr. Harshit Shah – Astrosat Mechanical Engineer - Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Source: University of Leicester