UK Scientists to Help NASA Answer the Question, ‘Was There Life on Mars?’

In February 2021, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (shown in an artist’s concept) will be the agency’s two newest explorers on Mars. Both were named by students as part of an essay contest. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists from the UK are playing a vital role in a NASA mission to Mars launched on Thursday, 30 July.

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Backed by the UK Space Agency, researchers at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum will help the NASA Perseverance rover select Martian rock and soil samples to be brought back from the red planet as it searches for evidence of ancient microbial life.

(more…)

Data Relay Satellite Beams at Light Speed

EDRS antennas undergoing tests. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed has gained its second satellite.

The European Data Relay System (EDRS) was built to accelerate the flow of information from Earth-observation satellites to people on the ground.

The second satellite in the network, EDRS-C, has now passed its user commissioning review and entered into full service.

(more…)

Six New Missions for the European Copernicus Earth Observation Program

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)
  • On 1 July 2020, the European Space Agency awarded contracts for the development and construction of six further Copernicus satellites.
  • Contracts with a value of more than 800 million euro are being awarded to space companies in Germany, a high percentage of which are SMEs.
  • The new satellites are intended to help find answers to the global challenges posed by climate change, population growth and environmental problems.

BONN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sentinel satellites are at the heart of Copernicus, Europe’s largest Earth observation programme. Sentinels are already reliably and continuously providing large amounts of data on the state of the climate, vegetation and oceans. Now, six more ‘Earth Guardians’, the High Priority Candidate Missions (HPCM), are being added.

(more…)

Ground Control to Faraday-1: DSTL to Operate First Space Mission

Faraday-1 satellite (Credit: DSTL)

LONDON (DSTL PR) — The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (DSTL) new satellite control ground station will support its first space mission following the launch of the Faraday-1 satellite. This mission will contribute towards international research collaborations to facilitate satellite operations between nations in support of wider defence science and technology goals in the space domain.

Manufactured by In-Space, Faraday-1 (also known as Prometheus-1 in the MOD community) will be launched from the Rocket Lab’s complex in Mahia, New Zealand, on 3 July, and orbit the Earth for a nominal period of three years to collect commercial data for industry partners.

(more…)

UK to Join Bidding for Bankrupt OneWeb

Huh.

The Financial Times reports that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to invest about £500 million ($621 million) as part of a wider consortium bid in bankrupt satellite provider OneWeb.

The company, which planned to offer satellite broadband services, launched 74 spacecraft in Earth orbit before it ran out of money in March. OneWeb has a manufacturing facility in Florida that is a joint venture with Airbus.

The British government is looking to develop its own satellite navigation system because UK companies were barred from being involved in the European Union’s (EU) Galileo system after Britain left the trade bloc.

However, developing and launching a separate system could cost more than £5 billion ($6.2 billion). U.S. defense officials were also opposed to the creating of a rival to the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The Financial Times reports that the Satellite Applications Catapult has proposed installing navigation technology on future OneWeb satellites. Spacecraft manufacturing would be moved from Florida to Britain.

The navigation system based on low orbiting OneWeb satellites would serve as a supplement, not a rival, to the GPS satellites.

Bids for OneWeb are due on Friday. There is reported interest from groups in France and China.

Foam, of Coarse

Foam Coarsening experiment on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

BRUSSELS (ESA PR) — The Foam-Coarsening experiment ran a new batch of cartridges in the Fluid Sciences Laboratory of the European Columbus module.

The experiment began in April to study foams in depth under the more stable conditions afforded by microgravity on the International Space Station.

(more…)

ESA Data-relay Satellite Ready for Service

Artist’s impression of EDRS system in space. (Credit: DLR)

PARIS (ESA) — The second node in the most sophisticated laser communication network ever designed is ready to go into service.

Dubbed the “SpaceDataHighway”, the European Data Relay System (EDRS) helps Earth-observing satellites to transmit large quantities of potentially life-saving data to Europe in near-real time.

(more…)

New ESA Partnership Project to Boost European Competitiveness

Artist’s impression of OneSat telecommunications satellite. (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A fully reconfigurable, software-defined, standardized satellite for the commercial telecommunications market is under development, as an ESA Partnership Project. 

ESA has signed a contract with satellite manufacturer Airbus to develop and qualify OneSat, which will operate in a geostationary orbit.

The contract was negotiated under teleworking and remote meeting conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The timely conclusion of the negotiations demonstrates the strong commitment of all parties and the agility of the processes used to manage ESA Partnership Projects.

The Novacom 1 Partnership Project to build OneSat will be jointly managed by ESA and the French Space Agency, CNES.

OneSat is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES). Like previous Neosat Partnership Projects, it is expected to generate an exceptional return on investment to European industry and ESA Member States.

Airbus, Xenesis Sign Payload Contract for New ISS Bartolomeo Platform

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)

Xenesis to space-test optical communication terminal aboard Airbus facility on ISS

HOUSTON, 05 May 2020 (Airbus/Xenesis PR) – Airbus and Xenesis have signed a contract for a payload slot on the International Space Station (ISS) Bartolomeo platform for the demonstration of their Xen-Hub optical communication space terminal.

(more…)

CIMON-2 Makes Successful Debut on the ISS

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano works with CIMON-2 aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany, 15 April 2020 (Airbus PR) – CIMON-2, the updated version of the CIMON astronaut assistant, developed and built by Airbus for the German Aerospace Center Space Administration (DLR), has now demonstrated its capabilities during initial tests on the International Space Station (ISS).

(more…)

Airbus Successfully Completes In-orbit Commissioning of CHEOPS Exoplanet Satellite

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

MADRID, 26 March 2020 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has received confirmation from ESA of a successful end to the In Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of CHEOPS after the IOC review yesterday. This critical phase was performed by Airbus in Spain with the support of the Instrument Team (University of Bern), Mission Operation Centre (INTA), Science Operation Centre (University of Geneva) and ESA.

(more…)

OneWeb Confirms Third Launch; Flight Dedicated to the Late Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov

Mission Overview

  • OneWeb’s third launch and second of 2020 is scheduled for March 21st from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
  • Arianespace will launch 34 OneWeb satellites, bringing the OneWeb constellation to 74 satellites.
  • OneWeb’s launch theme will commemorate the late Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who became the first person to walk in space 55 years ago this month.

LONDON, March 17, 2020 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone everywhere, confirmed its next launch will take place on Saturday, March 21st at 17:06 (GMT) / 1:06 PM (EDT) / 22:06 (local time) from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

(more…)

FOAM-C: Airbus Now “Foaming” on Board the International Space Station

FOAM-C experiment (Credit: Airbus)

Friedrichshafen, 03 March 2020 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has sent a new fluid experiment, FOAM-C, to the International Space Station (ISS). FOAM-C, which was developed and manufactured for the European Space Agency (ESA), is scheduled to be activated this month by astronaut Jessica Meir, who has been on the ISS since September 2019. 

(more…)

Cleared for Commercialization – Bartolomeo External Platform to Expand ISS Usage

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)
  • Europe’s first commercial external platform on the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for launch on 6 March 2020.
  • Built and tested in Germany, the Bartolomeo platform is a major step towards commercial ISS use in Europe.
  • Bartolomeo offers companies and research institutions ideal conditions for exposing their experiments and technological developments to the conditions of space simply and directly.

Its days on Earth are numbered – the external platform Bartolomeo is currently waiting for its launch to the International Space Station (ISS) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida inside a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

(more…)

Gradel Working on Lightweight Manufacturing for Space

Claude Maack (Credit: Luxembourg Space Agency)

Luxembourg Space Agency Q&A

Gradel MD, Claude Maack, on the future of ultra-lightweight construction for space.

Gradel has worked in the nuclear industry for 50 years and for the last decade the company has also been involved in the space industry, constructing highest end mechanical ground support equipment.

In the last year and a half Gradel has been working with the German company, AMC. They’re specialists in ultra-lightweight construction and collaborate with Gradel to develop ultra-lightweight materials for the space market.

(more…)