Watch ExoMars Launch Live on Monday

Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli mated to Breeze upper stage. (Credit: ESA - B. Bethge)
Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli mated to Breeze upper stage. (Credit: ESA – B. Bethge)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Livestreaming of the ExoMars launch will begin on 14 March at 08:30 GMT (09:30 CET). Regular text updates will be provided here.

Launch is scheduled for 09:31 GMT (10:31 CET) on 14 March with first acquisition of signal expected at around 21:29 GMT (22:29 CET).

Follow @ESA_ExoMars, @esaoperations and @esascience on twitter for additional #ExoMars coverage. Once mission controllers have established contact with TGO following acquisition of signal, the @ESA_TGO Twitter account will become active.

Provisional schedule

08:30 GMT / 09:30 CET Morning programme, including live launch coverage

11:00 GMT / 12:00 CET Afternoon programme, including regular live updates on the status of the mission, a series of dedicated presentations on the scientific goals and operational challenges and milestones of the ExoMars missions, and informal question and answer sessions

21:10 GMT / 22:10 CET Evening programme, including confirmation of spacecraft separation, solar array deployment and first acquisition of signal

21:45 GMT /22:45 CET End of event

Times subject to change.

ESA Teams Prepare for Critical Days

ESA's José Morales is Spacecraft Operations Manager for Sentinel-3A, a Copernicus satellite set for launch in February 2016. (Credit: ESA)
ESA’s José Morales is Spacecraft Operations Manager for Sentinel-3A, a Copernicus satellite set for launch in February 2016. (Credit: ESA)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — Moments after Sentinel-3A separates from its rocket, a team of European mission control specialists will assume control, shepherding the new spacecraft through its critical first days in space.

Carrying a suite of cutting-edge instruments, Sentinel-3A is set to join the Sentinel-1A radar satellite and the Sentinel-2A high-resolution optical satellite in orbit to monitor the health of our planet.

(more…)

Roscosmos to Restructure Khrunichev, Replace Management

The reorganization of the Russian space industry continued on Friday as Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin announced plans to create of a new rocket building holding organization and to replace the management of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.

Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin announced the plan in remarks before the State Duma, according to Interfax. The report doesn’t say why the move is being made, but it appears to be an attempt by the Russian space agency to tighten control over the industry.

(more…)

Russian Inquiry Board Clears Proton and Breeze-M for Flights

Roscosmos has cleared the Proton-M rocket and the Breeze-M upper stage for flight after an inquiry found that the recent loss of a communications satellite was caused by a programming error in the third stage’s guidance system.

“Following analysis of information, the commission has concluded that over formation of the mission profile for the Briz-M upper stage, the time interval of sub turning of the gyro-stabilised platform was cut unreasonably. This caused the incorrect orientation of the upper stage and, consequently, failed to bring the satellite to the designed orbit,” Roscosmos said in a press release.

The failure stranded the Express-AM4 satellite in a useless orbit. Controllers have been unable to contact the satellite, which was designed for digital television broadcasts.  Russia has suffered four launch failures in less than nine months.

“The rest of the booster worked without any problems,” Roscosmos said. “The result of the commission lifted the ban on the preparation of ‘Proton-M’ with RB ‘Breeze-M’ and prepare the necessary recommendations to be implemented before the next launches.”