back to article Out on a tangent: Almost two decades into its 5-year mission, INTEGRAL still delivers the gamma ray goods

In this penultimate edition of The Register's series looking at how ESA keeps its fleet of spacecraft ticking over, years or even decades after their expiry dates, we turn to INTEGRAL. Launched on 17 October 2002, atop a Proton from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, ESA's International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) is a …

  1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Rocket engineers - the abilities (and frequently the funding) to aspire to.

    1. ClockworkOwl


      I wish my household goods and cars were designed and engineered to the same standards...

      1. Mike Shepherd

        I wish...

        "I wish my household goods and cars were designed and engineered to the same standards

        I'm glad mine are not. I don't want to pay £300,000 for a vacuum cleaner or £500,000 for a washing machine.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: I wish...

          You wouldn't: "Same quality standards" doesn't necessarily imply that your washing machine is designed and built to ride a huge firecracker and spend many years in the hostile conditions of space.

          It just says that it is designed and built for the task, and thus won't rust, fall apart due to its own vibrations or short out because designers hadn't thought about the potential presence of water in it.

          1. ClockworkOwl

            Re: I wish...

            Indeed, and if they'd built millions of Saturn Vs a year, they'd still be expensive, but a hell of a lot less so...

      2. tfb Silver badge


        I don't know about yours, but we finally replaced our car in 2018 aged, I think, 18 and having done quarter of a million miles. It probably would be still going now although it would have needed increasing levels of care. It lived outside its whole life, and for the first ten years or so fairly close to the sea, so lots of salt. It never had significant work on the engine (new clutches which were clearly our fault). It never didn't start.

        Cars – some of them, anyway – are incredibly well engineered.

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: Cars

          Yep mine too. I had a Mondeo for 17 years until, 50 metres from home, it got hit by a slow-moving bin waggon that clearly thought 'I'm going slow, I won't hit anythi...' BANG!



  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Summed over its lifetime

    > Its service module, containing power generation and conditioning, control and communications, is a rebuild of the one used by XMM-Newton, which goes some way to explaining INTEGRAL's extraordinary longevity

    So that's what differentiates INTEGRAL from other research satellites?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Summed over its lifetime

      Different instruments looking at different energies and a wider field of view than XMM's higher resolution telescope.

      It just shares the "airframe"

  3. HildyJ Silver badge


    The sad thing is that his best advice is the thing that is most often ignored in the rush to market:

    "Preparation. Really prepare yourself. Think about everything that could go wrong."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think

      Murphy is a clever bastard.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think

      The awesome thing is: since they prepared so well, his regret from the preceding paragraph was that they didn't stop to consider if things went better than planned.

  4. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    TMs on the way down

    We did have live telemetry from Goce as it came down. The temperatures inside our unit went through the roof, but it carried on working just fine to the end.

    As for Soho, I know the failure case too well. It still gives nightmares to anyone doing anything new, hoping to not suffer the same fate.

  5. riffrafff

    INTEGRAL: Hey! Dig me! I'm almost 18 years old!

    Voyager 1: You're cute.

    Voyager 2: Yeah, kids say the darnest things.

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