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Dr. Axel Deich takes over as head of Space Technology – Pluto mission with payload fairing from Contraves Space starts successfully

Pfäffikon SZ, January 19, 2006 − Dr. Axel Deich (49) has been in charge of Unaxis’ Space Technology (Contraves Space) division since the beginning of 2006. Axel Deich has worked in the European aerospace industry for close to 20 years. From 1997 onwards he held various management positions at EADS Space, most recently as a member of the Space Transportation Management Committee and as Director Propulsion and Equipment. In that capacity, he was responsible for around 700 employees and managed a successful turnaround at the division after extensive restructuring. He holds diplomas in engineering and industrial economics, and earned his doctorate at the RWTH University of Technology in Aachen (Germany). “We are pleased to have won over a proven industry specialist to lead our aerospace business into the future“, stated Thomas Limberger, CEO of Unaxis.

As the new Division Head of Space Technology, Axel Deich succeeds Umberto Somaini, who retired on December 31, 2005. Umberto Somaini led Contraves Space since 1997, and during that time managed to position the business successfully in an increasingly demanding marketplace. Axel Deich now wishes to continue that successful track record within the framework of Unaxis’ group-wide strategy. He noted that “We must seek collaborative ventures that transcend national borders as we go forward, thereby strengthening our international presence. Only by so doing can we be successful in the marketplace.“

Successful start of Pluto mission

For Contraves Space, 2006 started successfully also from a technical standpoint: Tonight (CET) NASA’s “New Horizons” Pluto mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral. For this mission, Contraves Space AG supplied a specially designed 20.7 meters high payload fairing. Pluto lies at the outer edge of our solar system and is the only planet that has yet to be visited by a spacecraft. NASA now wishes to explore this extremely remote region for the first time with the “New Horizons” spacecraft.

The journey of roughly six billion kilometers will take approximately ten years to complete. “New Horizons“ is equipped with a variety of cameras as well as instruments for plasma, particle, and radiophysical measurements. In addition to examining the atmosphere and surface of Pluto, NASA hopes to gain a wide array of clues to the evolution of the solar system and planet Earth.

“New Horizons” was transported into space by a state-of-the-art Atlas V-551 launch vehicle. The payload fairing supplied by Contraves Space AG under contract to Lockheed Martin Space Systems protected the spacecraft during its flight through the Earth’s atmosphere. Approximately 200 seconds after liftoff, the fairing was jettisoned in two halves from the launch vehicle, precisely as planned. The separation proceeded flawlessly – as has been the case with each of the more than 170 payload fairings Contraves Space has supplied for various space missions ever since 1974.

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