CNES Looks to Improve Availability of Guyanese Space Center to Accommodate New Launchers, Launch Trajectories

Soyuz ascends from the Spaceport in French Guiana on Arianespace’s second mission of 2019, carrying the first six satellites for OneWeb. (Credit: Arianespace)

PARIS (CNES PR) — At the Guyanese Space Center (CSG), the evolution of launching azimuths leads to an increase in firing towards the North. In addition, more and more different launchers and associated launch sites must be taken into consideration, in particular with new launchers and demonstrators in preparation.

(more…)

ArianeGroup, CNES Sign Agreement on Prometheus Testing

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

PARIS, January 14, 2021 (ArianeGroup PR) — Following the visit to the ArianeGroup site in Vernon by President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, and Minister for Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu, ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed an agreement preparatory to the testing of the new Prometheus rocket engine at the Vernon site in Normandy.

(more…)

NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Ends Its Journey on Mars

Illustration of HP3 mole instrument on NASA’s InSight Mars lander. (Credit: DLR)

The heat probe hasn’t been able to gain the friction it needs to dig, but the mission has been granted an extension to carry on with its other science.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The heat probe developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed on Mars by NASA’s InSight lander has ended its portion of the mission. Since Feb. 28, 2019, the probe, called the “mole,” has been attempting to burrow into the Martian surface to take the planet’s internal temperature, providing details about the interior heat engine that drives the Mars’ evolution and geology. But the soil’s unexpected tendency to clump deprived the spike-like mole of the friction it needs to hammer itself to a sufficient depth.

(more…)

European Gateway Module to be Built in France as Thomas Pesquet Readies for Second Spaceflight

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA signed a contract today with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the lunar Gateway that will provide the new human exploration facility with communications and refuelling.

The Gateway is being built by the partners of the International Space Station and will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while allowing for space research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars.

(more…)

Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

(more…)

Arianespace Closes Out Year with Launch of French Defense Satellite

A Soyuz-2 launches the CSO-2 defense satellite on Dec. 29, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — For its 10th and final launch of the year, Arianespace used a Soyuz rocket to orbit the CSO-2 defense and security observation satellite for the French CNES space agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) and DGA defense procurement agency (Direction générale de l’armement), on behalf of the French armed forces.

(more…)

French Scientists to Help Analyze Hayabusa2 Asteroid Samples

Fig. 2 Sample container A inside the room (credit: JAXA)

The Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission returned at least 5.4 g of dust from the asteroid Ryugu. That’s 50 times more than expected! These unpublished samples could contain primitive organic molecules that played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.

PARIS (CNES PR) — A fabulous Christmas present! A harvest beyond expectations! A dream come true … Words fail to qualify the extraordinary success of the Hayabusa2 mission which deposited on December 6, 2020, in the Australian desert, a 40 cm diameter capsule containing a treasure: at least 5.4 g material from asteroid Ryugu. 

(more…)

Arianespace to Orbit CSO-2 Satellite for CNES and DGA on Behalf of French Ministry of Defense on Dec. 28

Soyuz launches three O3b satellites on April 4, 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana, December 22, 2020 (Arianespace PR) — For its 10th and final launch of the year — and the fifth in 2020 with the Soyuz medium launcher — Arianespace will send the CSO-2 Earth observation satellite, intended for defense and security applications, into Sun-synchronous orbit.

(more…)

Interplanetary Internet & Cameras in Space: ESA’s OPS-SAT First Results

As a flying laboratory, ESA’s OPS-SAT will test and validate new techniques in mission control and on-board systems. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — OPS-SAT is the world’s first open, in-orbit testbed for new spacecraft software and applications. By conducting low-cost, low-risk experiments with OPS-SAT, teams from across Europe are ushering in a new era for European spaceflight innovation and commercial opportunity.

  • OPS-SAT’s commissioning phase ended in September and the first experiments are now being carried out in orbit
  • Innovative new technologies are being tested on OPS-SAT in areas such as artificial intelligence, data compression, and space-based web services
  • Initial experimental results have exceeded expectations
  • Results from many more experiments expected soon
(more…)

ESA, CNES Sign Contract to Maintain and Modernize Spaceport

Vega and Ariane 5 launch pads at Europe’s Spaceport. (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA will contribute to the maintenance, operations and modernisation of Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana over the period 2020–24.

At the ESA Council meeting on 16 December, a contract for the ‘Maintenance of the Guiana Space Centre launch range in operational condition for the period 2020–24, including core launch range renewal activities’ was signed by Jan Wörner, ESA Director General and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, France’s space agency.

(more…)

ArianeGroup Signs Contract with ESA to Develop Themis Reusable Stage Demonstrator

Themis rocket in flight. (Credit: CNES)
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded ArianeGroup the contract for the initial development phase of the Themis reusable rocket stage demonstrator
  • This first contract, worth 33 million euros, was awarded to ArianeGroup following preparatory work done by ArianeWorks, the innovation accelerator platform created by the French space agency CNES and ArianeGroup
  • Themis, powered by the Prometheus engine, will enable Europe to develop technologies for future low-cost reusable launchers

PARIS (ArianeGroup PR) — ArianeGroup has received a 33-million-euro contract from the European Space Agency (ESA), to begin the first development phase for the Themis reusable rocket stage demonstrator. Themis will use Prometheus, the very low-cost rocket engine demonstrator currently under development as an ESA programme.

(more…)

NASA, US, European Partner Satellite Returns First Sea Level Measurements

The data in this graphic are the first sea surface height measurements from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6MF) satellite, which launched Nov. 21, 2020. They show the ocean off the southern tip of Africa, with red colors indicating higher sea level relative to blue areas, which are lower. (Credits: EUMETSAT)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, a joint U.S.-European satellite built to measure global sea surface height, has sent back its first measurements of sea level. The data provide information on sea surface height, wave height, and wind speed off the southern tip of Africa.

(more…)

Arianespace to Launch CO3D Constellation on Vega C Booster

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

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has signed a contract with Airbus to launch four new-generation optical observation satellites of the CO3D (Composante Optique 3D) constellation, to be orbited using the Vega C launcher.

(more…)

An Exciting Day for Science and Exploration

Hayabusa2 capsule with parachute in the Woomera Prohibited Area. (Credit: JAXA)

by Thomas Zurbuchen
Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate

Today marks an exciting and historic event as precious samples from asteroid Ryugu have been brought to Earth by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 mission. This is an extremely challenging endeavor and we commend and congratulate Japan on being not only the first nation that has been able to carry out a successful asteroid retrieval mission, but to now have done so for the second time!

(more…)

Innovative ESA-Private Partnership to Produce Reconfigurable Satellite

Artistic view of Space Inspire satellite. (Copyright: Thales Alenia Space /Briot)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A fully reconfigurable, software-defined, standardised satellite for the commercial telecommunications market is under development, with contributions from a new Partnership Project between satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space and ESA.

Space Inspire is a new product line for geostationary satellites that will allow customers unprecedented flexibility for video broadcasting and broadband connectivity services by reconfiguring their missions and services instantly in-orbit.

(more…)