Ariane 6 Launch Delayed to Second Quarter of 2022

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

Vega-C and Ariane 6 are being developed by ESA to assure Europe’s independent access to space. The maiden flight for Vega-C is planned to take place in June 2021, that for Ariane 6 for the second quarter of 2022.

PARIS (ESA PR) — Solid progress is being made on both Vega-C and Ariane 6 development programmes. Since March, some technical events and the COVID-19 pandemic have both impacted the progress of activities. Uncertainty from COVID-19 still persists globally to date.

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CNES Eyes Biomass to Fuel Future Ariane Launchers

Biomethane installation (Credit: Naskeo Environnement)

The idea of ​​using biomethane to propel future generations of Ariane is gaining ground. This innovative technological solution would have great economic and environmental interest and many positive repercussions in Guyana.

PARIS (CNES PR) — The future Ariane Next launcher , which could take over from Ariane 6 by 2030 or 2035, will have to be more economical to meet market needs. One of the avenues to achieve this could be to use liquid methane rather than hydrogen to power the engines.

“The matter is not yet 100% decided, but we are looking with interest at the combination of oxygen and methane. This is why we are looking for the best methane production channel from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint,” said Pascal Noir, project manager at the Launchers Department.

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NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Is Out of Sight

NASA’s InSight retracted its robotic arm on Oct. 3, 2020, revealing where the spike-like “mole” is trying to burrow into Mars. The copper-colored ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet’s heat flow. In the coming months, the arm will scrape and tamp down soil on top of the mole to help it dig. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now that the heat probe is just below the Martian surface, InSight’s arm will scoop some additional soil on top to help it keep digging so it can take Mars’ temperature.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander continues working to get its “mole” – a 16-inch-long (40-centimeter-long) pile driver and heat probe – deep below the surface of Mars. A camera on InSight’s arm recently took images of the now partially filled-in “mole hole,” showing only the device’s science tether protruding from the ground.

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SSC to Launch Satellites From Esrange Space Center

MAXUS 9 launched at Esrange Space Center. (Credit: SSC)

SOLNA, Sweden (Swedish Space Corporation PR) — Today, the Swedish government announced a decision to establish capability to launch small satellites from Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.

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Ariane 6 Engines Complete Qualification Tests

Hot firing of P120C solid rocket motor for Vega-C. (Credit: ESA/CNES)
  • The three engines for Europe’s new Ariane 6 launcher have now completed their qualification tests, following the successful qualification testing of the P120C solid propulsion engine on October 7 at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana
  • The qualification test campaigns for the Vinci and Vulcain 2.1 liquid propulsion engines were held in 2018 and 2019, respectively
  • The Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci engines, which will be powering the first Ariane 6, are ready to be mounted on the core stage in Les Mureaux and on the upper stage in Bremen

PARIS (ArianeGroup PR) — The future European launcher’s three types of engines use two different propulsion technologies:

  • liquid hydrogen-oxygen propulsion for the Vulcain 2.1 core stage engine and the re-ignitable Vinci engine on the upper stage;
  • solid propulsion for the P120C engine fitted to the boosters which help propel Ariane 6 beyond the gravitational pull of earth’s atmosphere.
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Video: Hot Fire of P120C Motor for Ariane 6

Video Caption: The second qualification model of the P120C solid rocket motor, configured for Ariane 6, completed its hot firing on 7 October 2020 in a final test to prove its readiness for flight.

Depending on the configuration, two or four P120C motors, developed in Europe, will be strapped onto the sides of the future Ariane 6 launch vehicle as boosters for liftoff. The P120C will also be used as the first stage of Vega-C.

After it was fully loaded with 142 tonnes of fuel, the 13.5 m long and 3.4 m diameter motor was ignited to simulate liftoff and the first phase of flight.

The motor burned for 130 seconds and delivered a maximum thrust of about 4500kN. The test was performed at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, and was completed with no anomalies.

Copyright: ESA/CNES

5 Things to Know About Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

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)

Set for launch in November, the Earth-observing satellite will closely monitor sea level and provide atmospheric data to support weather forecasting and climate models.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 10, the world’s latest Earth-observing satellite will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. As a historic U.S.-European partnership, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will begin a five-and-a-half-year prime mission to collect the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how our oceans are rising in response to climate change. The mission will also collect precise data of atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help improve weather forecasts and climate models.

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Momentus Announces Service Agreement with Australia’s Skykraft and France’s MECANO ID to Deploy Microsatellite Constellation Pathfinder

Vigoride (Credit: Momentus)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc.  (“Momentus” or the “Company”), a commercial space company offering in-space satellite transportation and hosted payload services, today announced a launch service agreement for deploying Skykraft’s microsatellite on Vigoride’s mission in June 2021.

Skykraft’s spacecraft is a pathfinder for a future large LEO constellation, and will be deployed via a new separation ring named EOS and developed by MECANO ID under a CNES contract thanks to the partial financing of the Future Investment Plan.

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First Tests for Land­ing the Mar­tian Moons eX­plo­ration Rover

Preparations for a drop test. (Credit: DLR)
  • Intensity of the landing impact on Mars’ moon Phobos is being tested with a rover model.
  • The housing of the rover consists of a lightweight construction made of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRP).
  • The landing on Phobos is planned for late 2026 or early 2027 as part of the MMX mission

BREMEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission will have a German-French rover on board when it is launched in 2024. The rover will land on the Martian moon Phobos and explore its surface for approximately three months.

Initial landing tests are currently underway at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Landing and Mobility Test Facility (Lande- und Mobilitätstest Anlage; LAMA) in Bremen. Using a first preliminary development model, the engineers are determining how robust the design of the approximately 25-kilogram rover must be to withstand an impact on the moon’s surface after a free fall of about 40 to 100 metres.

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France, India Space Cooperation to Focus on Climate and Human Spaceflight

French also to contribute instrument to India’s 2025 mission to Venus

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Wednesday September 30, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, met with his Indian counterpart, Dr. K Sivan, President of ISRO. During this virtual session, all the subjects central to cooperation between the two countries were discussed.

In August 2019, CNES and ISRO embarked on the development and manufacture of a constellation of satellites. This, carrying telecommunications (AIS automatic identification) and observation (radar and optical) instruments, will constitute the first space system in the world allowing continuous surveillance of maritime traffic. 

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ESA Signs 2 Contracts with Exotrail for Delivery of Electric Propulsion Solutions

An artistic rendering of a satellite firing with a Exotrail ExoMG cluster of four thrusters. (Credit: Exotrail)

LUXEMBOURG (ESA PR) — ESA has signed two contracts with Exotrail under which the company will build and deliver engineering, qualification, and flight models of its ExoMG™ – nano  and ExoMG™ – micro electric propulsion systems. These contracts will allow Exotrail to develop new features on both products ready to be demonstrated in space.

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A Look at Europe’s Reusable Themis Booster Project

Themis rocket in flight. (Credit: CNES)

CNES Program Description

With ArianeWorks, CNES and ArianeGroup have acquired an innovation accelerator that disrupts practices and frees energy. First project: the development of Themis, a prototype of a first stage of a reusable launcher.

Accelerate the pace of innovation and prepare the successor to Ariane 6 by 2030. This is the roadmap for ArianeWorks, a joint team set up by CNES and ArianeGroup in 2019 to embody their vision of the future.

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Franco-American SuperCam on Way to Mars Aboard Perseverance Rover

A close-up of the head of Mars Perseverance’s remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument (its lens is in the large circular opening). In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover’s two navigation cameras. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Thursday 30 July, the Mars 2020 mission successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida atop an Atlas V launcher. For the Perseverance rover carrying the French-U.S. SuperCam instrument, the long voyage to the red planet has begun. The mission is scheduled to land on Mars on 18 February 2021.

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Demonstrator Satellite for KINEIS IoT Constellation is Operational

Translated from French by Google Translate

PARIS (CNES PR) — ANGELS, put into orbit on December 18, 2019 and equipped with new flight software, has kept its promises: the ANGELS platform now fully performs the missions for which it was designed by HEMERIA in collaboration with CNES.

In-flight testing of the ARGOS-Néo payload developed by Thales and Syrlinks is continuing nominally and will allow the operational use of this new mission on board ANGELS to be declared, which will thus complete the ARGOS system.

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Exotrail Signs Contract with CNES to Develop Cluster of Thrusters

An artistic rendering of a satellite firing with a Exotrail ExoMG cluster of four thrusters. (Credit: Exotrail)

PARIS (Exotrail PR) — Exotrail has signed a contract with the French Space Agency, CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), for a development project concerning the clusterisation of several Hall Effect Thrusters.

This Research & Technology (R&T) contract will allow Exotrail to demonstrate its capability to use several thrusters together in order to reach higher thrust and power for larger satellites’ needs.

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