Inverted Cables Caused Vega Rocket to Fail

Vega takes off on its 17th flight on Nov. 16, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

Engineers say they have identified what caused the loss of a European Vega rocket and its two satellites on Monday evening. The BBC reported:

The problem was traced to the actuators that change the direction of thrust on the Vega’s upper-stage engine.

When they received commands from the guidance, navigation and control (GNC) system, they turned the motor’s nozzle counter to the intended direction.

Roland Lagier, from Arianespace, the company that markets and launches Vega rockets, said cabling on the thrust vector control system must have been inverted when the upper-stage engine was assembled.

“This was of course a production and quality issue. It was a human error and not a design one,” the chief technical officer told reporters.

Lost in the failure were Spain’s SeoSat-Ingenio Earth observation satellite and France’s Taranis research spacecraft, which was to study high-atmosphere lightning.

Vega has compiled a record of 15 successes and two failures since its maiden flight on Feb. 13, 2012. The first failure occurred during the 15th flight on July 11, 2019. An investigation determined the most likely cause was a thermo-structural failure in the forward dome area of the Z23 second stage motor.

Vega made a successful return to flight on Sept. 3, 2020, by launching 53 small satellites on its first rideshare mission.

Thales Alenia Space to Build Copernicus CHIME Satellites

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

CANNES, France (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), announced today that it has signed a 90 million euro [$106.5 million] first tranche contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the 2 environmental monitoring satellites of the Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment (CHIME), the global amount being 455 million euros [$538.5 million].

The CHIME mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

(more…)

Thales Alenia Space to Build Copernicus CIMR Satellites

Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

ROME (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) announced today that it has signed a 93 million euro [$110 million], first tranche of the 495 million euro [$585.85 million] global contract, with the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) environmental monitoring satellites.

The CIMR mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Thales Alenia Space at Forefront of High-priority Environmental Missions

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)
  • 2 new contracts signed today between Thales Alenia Space and the European Space Agency in the presence of French minister, Bruno Le Maire and Italian Undersecretary  Riccardo Fraccaro
  • Involved in 5 out of 6 Copernicus expansion new missions
  • Prime contractor for CHIME, CIMR and ROSE-L, leading industrial consortium from France and Italy

CANNES (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), signed today with the European Space Agency (ESA) two new contracts in the frame of the new high-priority Copernicus satellite missions planned to expand the current capabilities of the Sentinels and serve EU policy as well as citizens needs.

(more…)

ESA Signs Contracts for Three High-priority Environmental Missions

Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME) satellite. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

PARIS, November 13, 2020 (ESA PR) — Today, ESA signed contracts with Thales Alenia Space in France and in Italy, and Airbus in Spain to build three of the new high-priority Copernicus satellite missions: CHIME, CIMR and LSTM, respectively.

Each mission is set to help address different major environmental challenges such as sustainable agriculture management, food security, the monitoring of polar ice supporting the EU Integrated Policy for the Arctic, and all will be used to understand climate change.

(more…)

Chinese Long March 6 Launches 13 Satellites

A Chinese Long March 6 booster launched 10 commercial Earth observation satellites for Satellogic of Argentina and three second payloads for Chinese customers on Friday.

The booster lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 11:19 a.m. Beijing Standard Time on Nov. 6. It was the fourth Long March 6 launch and the 351st flight of the Long March family of boosters.

(more…)

Satellogic Expands In-orbit Capacity, Offering Customers Increased Revisit Capabilities and Sub-Meter Imagery

With the addition of 10 new satellites, Satellogic’s fleet now provides up to four daily revisits of any point of interest

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, November 6, 2020 (Satellogic PR) — Satellogic, the first company to develop a scalable Earth observation platform with the ability to remap the entire planet at both high-frequency and high-resolution, today announced the successful dedicated launch of 10 new satellites, delivered to sun-synchronous low-Earth orbits at 3:18:50 am UTC on November 6, 2020.

(more…)

D-Orbit Announces Successful Origin Satellite Deployment Mission

The satellite carrier completes deployment of all 12 SuperDove satellites

FINO MORNASCO, Italy D-Orbit PR) — D-Orbit, the in-orbit transportation company, announced the successful completion of the deployment phase of Origin mission, the first of ION Satellite Carrier. ION, D-Orbit’s satellite platform, successfully released 12 SuperDove satellites for Earth-imaging company Planet, in the precise orbital slots requested by the client.

The vehicle has been operational since September 3rd, when it was successfully released from an Arianespace Vega launcher. On September 25th, it released successfully the first SuperDove satellite of the batch, and the last satellite was deployed on October 28th, at 10:38:46 UTC.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Launches 10 Earth Imaging Satellites

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

MAHIA PENINSULA, New Zeland — Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launched 10 small satellites into Earth orbit on Wednesday (Thursday local time) from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

The “In Focus” rideshare mission orbited nine SuperDove Earth imaging satellites for Planet of San Francisco and a microsatellite with several telescopes aboard for Canon Electronics of Japan.

It was Rocket Lab’s Electron’s 15th launch overall and the fifth flight of the booster in 2020. The company has a record of 13 successes and two failures.

Planet’s nine SuperDove spacecraft were deployed into 500 km (311 mile) high sun synchronous orbits using Rocket Lab’s Maxwell satellite dispensers. They join Planet’s constellation of medium-resolution imaging satellites.

Canon Electronics’ CE-SAT-IIB is a technological demonstration satellite has a middle-sized telescope equipped with an ultra-high sensitivity camera capable of taking night images of the Earth. The spacecraft also has small-size telescopes suitable for CubeSat use.

Global Market for Commercial Earth Observation Data and Services to Reach $8 Billion by 2029, Growing from $4.6 Billion in 2019

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama (Euroconsult PR)– In its research report, Earth Observation Data & Services Market, Euroconsult provides in-depth analysis of Earth Observation (EO) satellite systems, commercial EO data, and the value-added services that contribute to the sector. With a global market projected to reach $8 billion by 2029, growth is expected to be driven by a mix of defense and new commercial markets, supported by the arrival of new constellation operators with low-cost solutions.

In 2019, the total value of the industry was $4.6 billion with the data market reaching $1.6 billion and value-added services (VAS) contributing $3 billion. Defense accounted for 64% of the data market, while environmental monitoring was the largest user of VAS.

(more…)

Satellite Imagery and Broadband to Nearly Quadruple the Earth Observation Precision Agriculture Market by 2029

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama (Euroconsult PR) – For its latest research titled, EO4AG – Earth Observation for Agriculture, Euroconsult has teamed up with TerraMetric, a US-based, global business development firm focused on geospatial and new space markets, to provide an in-depth analysis on the global trends, vertical integration opportunities and regional demand forecasted for Earth observation-based services and products addressing the agriculture sector.

The two companies forecast that by 2029, the total agricultural market is expected to double in value to reach over $815 million. While government-driven sales are foreseen to remain significant, the uptake of precision agriculture solutions within the private sector due to expected near-global broadband coverage is expected to be the main catalyst behind this anticipated market growth.

(more…)

U.S.-European Sea Level Satellite Gears Up for Launch

This animation shows the radar pulse from the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite’s altimeter bouncing off the sea surface in order to measure the height of the ocean. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will soon be heading into orbit to monitor the height of the ocean for nearly the entire globe.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Preparations are ramping up for the Nov. 10 launch of the world’s latest sea level satellite. Since arriving in a giant cargo plane at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last month, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has been undergoing final checks, including visual inspections, to make sure it’s fit to head into orbit.

(more…)

Spaceflight Inc. Launch Cadence Accelerates with Upcoming Electron and PSLV Missions to Expand Constellations

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

Rideshare provider to deploy nine spacecraft for customers Canon Electronics, Kleos Space and Spire on next two missions

SEATTLE – October 14, 2020 – Spaceflight Inc., the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will execute two launches on two different continents in a matter of weeks; one aboard a Rocket Lab Electron and the other on NewSpace India Limited’s (NSIL) PSLV. For both missions, Spaceflight arranged the launch and is providing mission management and rideshare integration services for its customers Canon Electronics, Kleos Space and Spire.

(more…)