Vega Booster Fails for Second Time in Three Launches

Vega flight 17 lifts off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on Nov. 16, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

KOUROU, French Guiana — Europe’s Vega booster failed on Monday night for the second time in the last three launch attempts.

The flight of the solid-fuel rocket appeared to go nominally until the first of four planned burn of the AVUM fourth stage. At that point, the stage deviated from its planned trajectory.

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Airbus Wins ESA’s LSTM Temperature-check Mission for Copernicus Next Generation

Copernicus Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) satellite. (Credit: Airbus)
  • Contract valued at €380 million [$449.75 million]
  • Airbus Spain to lead industrial consortium: first Copernicus prime for Spain

MADRID (Airbus Defence and Space PR) – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor for the new Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) mission. LSTM is part of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation programme for global monitoring. It is one of the six new missions, expanding the capabilities of the current Copernicus space component. The contract is valued at € 380 million which includes the development of one LSTM satellite, with an option for two further satellites.

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Airbus Wins ESA TRUTHS Mission Study for Metrological Traceability of Earth Observation Data

The TRUTHS satellite mission will collect measurements of the Sun radiation and of the sunlight reflected off Earth’s surface traced to an absolute metrological reference, which will then be used to improve the climatological data sets and calibrate the observations of other satellites. (Credit: National Physical Laboratory)
  • TRUTHS to provide benchmark of Earth’s Radiation budget by consistent calibration traced to a metrological reference
  • Consistent calibration will also enhance existing satellite missions

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR) – Airbus has been awarded the lead in the European Space Agency (ESA) contract for the TRUTHS A/B1 (System feasibility Studies and Pre-Developments) as part of ESA’s Earth Observation Earth Watch programme.

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ROXY Turns Moon Dust into Oxygen

ROXY enables the design of a small, simple, compact and cost-efficient regolith to oxygen and metals conversion facility, and is therefore ideally suited to support a wide range of future exploration missions. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)
  • New technology from Airbus achieves breakthrough
  • Chemical reduction process opens new horizons in human space exploration
  • Emission-free method could also contribute to UN sustainability goals on Earth

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN/DRESDEN/BOSTON/SEVILLE (Airbus PR) – An international team led by Airbus Defence and Space (Friedrichshafen, Germany) with scientists from Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM (Dresden, Germany), Boston University (Massachusetts, USA) and Abengoa Innovación (Seville, Spain) has successfully demonstrated the production of oxygen and metals from simulated lunar dust (regolith) with the Airbus-invented process named ROXY (Regolith to OXYgen and Metals Conversion). Airbus believes ROXY could revolutionise human space exploration.

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ArianeGroup to Deliver Key Orion Propulsion System Components for Artemis III Moon Mission

Orion near the moon (Credit: NASA)
  • Airbus Defence and Space has placed several propulsion contracts with ArianeGroup for the third European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Artemis Moon mission
  • ArianeGroup will be delivering several key components, including the attitude control system, as well as providing propulsion system integration and testing services
  • These contracts follow on from the decisions taken at ESA’s Space 19+ Conference

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN & BREMEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — ArianeGroup has just signed several agreements with Airbus Defence and Space for the adaptation and construction of the third European Service Module (ESM) flight model for the Orion spacecraft. ArianeGroup will therefore:

— provide integration and testing services for the propulsion sub-system, as well as for certain parts of the thermal sub-system and the corresponding electronic sub-systems

— deliver several major components of the propulsion sub-system: notably 24 attitude control engines, two high-pressure regulators, various fuel valves, four fuel tanks, and two high-pressure helium tanks for pressurizing the fuel tanks in zero-gravity conditions

— provide technical support during system integration and acceptance of the Orion spacecraft’s ESM in the United States.

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Kongsberg Awarded Contract for Mobile Communications

Thuraya 4-NGS satellite in orbit. (Credit: Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace)

HORTEN, Norway (Kongsberg PR) — Kongsberg has developed world-class signal processing equipment that provides improved mobile coverage in areas with insufficient ground network.

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KSAT, Planet, and Airbus Awarded First-Ever Global Contract to Combat Deforestation

Global map showing the extent of monthly Planet Basemaps to be provided through the partnership for tropical forest monitoring. (Credit: Planet Labs)

KSAT will together with partners Planet and Airbus deliver satellite-based optical imagery for deforestation monitoring and control to Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) in a 4 year Groundbreaking agreement.

TROMSO, Norway (KSAT PR) — Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment has awarded an international contract to KSAT who together with Planet, and Airbus provide universal access to high-resolution satellite monitoring of the tropics in order to support efforts to stop deforestation and save the world’s tropical forests. The contract is valued up to 405M NOK (~$43.5M, ~37M €). 

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First Results from Cheops: ESA’s Exoplanet Observer Reveals Extreme Alien World

Artist impression of exoplanet WASP-189b orbiting its host star. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s new exoplanet mission, Cheops, has found a nearby planetary system to contain one of the hottest and most extreme extra-solar planets known to date: WASP-189 b. The finding, the very first from the mission, demonstrates Cheops’ unique ability to shed light on the Universe around us by revealing the secrets of these alien worlds.

Launched in December 2019, Cheops (the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite) is designed to observe nearby stars known to host planets. By ultra-precisely measuring changes in the levels of light coming from these systems as the planets orbit their stars, Cheops can initially characterise these planets — and, in turn, increase our understanding of how they form and evolve.

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Plans Underway for New European Polar Ice and Snow Topography Mission

CRISTAL satellite (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Monitoring the cryosphere is essential to fully assess, predict and adapt to climate variability and change. Given the importance of this fragile component of the Earth system, today ESA, along with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space, have signed a contract to develop the Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter mission, known as CRISTAL.

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ESA Awards Airbus €300 Million Copernicus Satellite Contract

CRISTAL satellite (Credit: ESA)
  • CRISTAL will measure sea ice thickness and ice sheet elevations
  • Airbus in Germany will lead the industrial consortium
  • Contract is worth € 300 million

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany, 21 September 2020 – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus to develop and build the Copernicus polar ice and snow topography mission (CRISTAL). With two satellites the CRISTAL mission will ensure the long-term continuation of radar altimetry ice elevation and change records. It is one of six new missions to expand the current capabilities of the Copernicus space component for the benefit of all European citizens. The contract is worth € 300 million [$352 million].

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Airbus Signs Contract with UK Ministry of Defence for Skynet 6A Satellite

STEVENAGE, UK, July 19, 2020 (Airbus PR) — Airbus Defence and Space has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to extend and enhance the Skynet fleet. This will involve the development, manufacture, cyber protection, assembly, integration, test and launch, of a military communications satellite, Skynet 6A, planned for launch in 2025.

The contract also covers technology development programmes, new secure telemetry, tracking and command systems, launch, in-orbit testing and ground segment updates to the current Skynet 5 system. The value of the contract is more than £500 million.

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ESA Selects Thales Alenia Space Proposals for Copernicus Project

Copernicus Sentinel-3 (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

CANNES, July 2, 2020 (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), has recently been selected  by the European Space Agency (ESA) in coordination and with the agreement of the European Commission, for major Copernicus missions.

Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.

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Airbus Signs Contract with Optus for OneSat

Optus 11 satellite (Credit: Airbus)

First satellite contract from leading operator Optus from Australia

Another success for OneSat, Airbus’ new fully reconfigurable satellite, now totalling four orders

Sydney /Toulouse, France, 2 July 2020 (Airbus PR) – Airbus Defence and Space has won a contract for a fully reconfigurable telecommunications satellite from Australia’s second largest telecommunications company and leading satellite operator Optus. The satellite will be based on Airbus’ new standard OneSat product line and is Airbus’ first contract from the Australian operator.

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Airbus Wins Next Study Contract for Martian Sample Fetch Rover

Landing in 2028, the rover will then travel an average of 200 metres a day, over a period of six months to find and pick up the samples. It will collect up to 36 tubes, carry them back to the lander and place them in a Mars Ascent Vehicle which will launch them into orbit around Mars. (Credit: NASA)

Work progresses on joint ESA/NASA mission to bring samples back from Mars

STEVENAGE, UK (Airbus PR) – Airbus Defence and Space has won the next phase of the study contract (Advanced B2) from the European Space Agency (ESA) for the advanced Sample Fetch Rover which will be used to collect samples from the surface of Mars.

Mars Sample Return is a joint NASA and ESA campaign to return samples from the Red Planet. NASA’s 2020 Mars rover mission Perseverance will collect Martian soils and rock samples and leave them on the surface in small metal tubes.

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NASA Adds Airbus to Commercial Satellite Data Program

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has decided to add Airbus Defence and Space GEO Inc. to its growing list of companies from which the space agency will purchase commercial optical and radar satellite imagery.

NASA published a public notice earlier this month that it plans to acquire Airbus imagery as part of its Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program (CSDAP). The commercial imagery complements data collected by NASA’s satellites.

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