Planet to Launch Six Satellites on SpaceX Falcon 9 Flights

Falcon 9 launch with fourth batch of Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SAN FRANCISCO (Planet PR) — Planet is set to launch six more SkySat satellites (SkySats 16-21) into Low Earth Orbit this summer, rounding out the fleet of 15 SkySats already in operation.

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CSA Issues Letter of Interest for 7 Priority Technologies

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued a Letter of Interest (LOI) for seven priority technologies the agency wants industry to develop under its Space Technology Development Program.

The technologies include: improved wide-field astronomical imaging; exoplanet search; advanced planetary exploration instruments; improvements in synthetic aperture radar imaging; and the use block chain with Earth observation data.

Below is a table summarizing the seven technologies.

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Satellogic Raises $50 Million

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (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 $50M in funding from new and existing investors. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Satellogic’s $38M Dedicated Satellite Constellation (DSC) agreement with ABDAS to deliver access to a dedicated fleet of satellites providing them with high-resolution geospatial insights that will contribute to the monitoring of agriculture over the Henan Province in China and strengthen governmental decisions.

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USAF Seeks SBIR Proposals for Cislunar Space Operations

In what might be a reaction to China’s ambitious space program, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) will award funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to proposals for commercial technology that will allow it to operate in cislunar space.

“As the space beyond geosynchronous orbit becomes more crowded and competitive, it is important for the Air Force to extend its space domain awareness responsibilities to include this new regime.. To support this new body of work, the Air Force is seeking commercial innovation in support of space domain awareness for future cislunar operations,” the service said in a pre-solicitation notice.

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International Space Station Adds a Powerful New Camera

Orange County, Calif. (Credit: The Aerospace Corporation)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — Aerospace’s new infrared camera is now obtaining unique high-contrast, nighttime images from its home on the International Space Station (ISS). The 45-kilogram instrument, known as the Near Infrared Airglow Camera (NIRAC), will provide detailed observations of clouds at night for weather prediction, among other applications.  

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Soyuz Booster to Launch COSMO-Skymed, Cheops, ANGELS, Eyesat and OPS-SAT

Replica of OPS-SAT (Credit: ESA–Stijn Laagland)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Tuesday 17 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 23rd time from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, carrying COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation for the Italian space agency ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defence, CHEOPS for the European Space Agency (ESA), ANGELS and EyeSat for CNES, and OPS-SAT for operator Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

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Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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Ireland to Contribute Over €100 million to ESA

SEVILLE, Spain (Irish Government PR) — Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, T.D., along with Ministers with responsibility for space within the 22 European Space Agency (ESA) Member States and Canada, gathered in Seville, Spain to attend ESA’s  Ministerial Council meeting, Space19+.  The key purpose of the Ministerial meeting is to determine future ESA policies and strategies and to take decisions on Member States’ investment in future space programmes.

During Space19+, Minister Halligan confirmed Ireland’s investment in a number of ESA’s Optional Programmes. Ireland’s investment decisions at Space19+ have been guided by the National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025, published earlier this year. The national strategy aims to develop a strong and economically sustainable space-active industry in Ireland.

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CSA Strengthens Long-term Partnership with ESA

SEVILLE, Spain (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) took part in the Ministerial Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) on  November 27–28, 2019, in Seville, Spain. This high-level meeting is held every two to three years to make important decisions regarding Europe’s future space activities. Canada is the only non-European cooperating state of ESA.

Following broad consultations with Canada’s space sector, the CSA is investing approximately $60 million (€37.2 million) in the ESA  programmes that have been strategically selected as areas most likely to benefit Canadian industry: Earth observation, satellite communications, exploration and technology development.

These investments are aligned with the Space Strategy for Canada. Past investments in ESA have resulted in opportunities for Canadian companies worth almost three times the value of the initial contract.

Canada and ESA have been cooperating in space activities for over 40  years in order to provide Canadian organizations with access to European markets, and to foster collaboration in science. The partnership also provides Canada’s space sector with access to data from ESA missions and infrastructure. In June 2019, Canada renewed its treaty-level  agreement  with ESA until 2030.

Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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ESA Ministers Commit to Biggest Ever Budget of $15.84 Billion

Credit: ESA

Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

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China’s Chang’e 6 to Deploy French DORN Instrument on Moon to Study Lunar Exosphere

BEIJING (CNES PR) — Wednesday 6 November, on the occasion of President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the People’s Republic of China, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), signed in the presence of Presidents Macron and Xi Jinping a joint statement covering two fields of investigation.

First, in 2023 China’s Chang’e 6 lunar mission will fly the French DORN instrument proposed by the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute. DORN’s science goals are to study the transport of volatiles through the lunar regolith and in the lunar exosphere and lunar dust.

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ESA, Arianespace Sign Launch Contract for Earth Explorer Biomass Satellite

ESA’s Earth Explorer Biomass satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today, ESA and Arianespace signed a contract that secures the launch of the Earth Explorer Biomass satellite. With liftoff scheduled for 2022 on a Vega launch vehicle from French Guiana, this new mission is another step closer to mapping the amount of carbon stored in forests and how it changes over time though deforestation, for example.

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World Space Alliance Continues to Strengthen

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — The ESA–SAP World Space Alliance continues to grow as Airbus Defence and Space, the Environmental Systems Research Institute and GeoVille join the partnership.

Earlier this year, SAP – a German-based multinational software corporation – and ESA created the World Space Alliance (WSA). This was another milestone in the ESA—SAP partnership that was initiated in 2016.

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