SOLARIS: ESA Prepares for Space-Based Solar Power

PARIS (ESA PR) — To prepare Europe for future decision making on Space-Based Solar Power, ESA has proposed a preparatory programme for Europe, initially named SOLARIS, for the upcoming ESA Council at Ministerial Level in November 2022.

Space-based solar power is a potential source of clean, affordable, continuous, abundant and secure energy. This basic concept has been given fresh urgency by the need for new sources of clean and secure energy to aid Europe’s transition to a Net Zero carbon world by 2050. If Europe wants to benefit from this game-changing capability then we need to start investing now.

ESA has undertaken two cost vs. benefit studies on “Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) for terrestrial energy needs” together with Roland Berger and Frazer-Nash. These two studies were completed in August 2022 and you can read the full results on the ESA website.

The European Space Agency – ESA has just released a new Request for Information for Breakthrough Technologies for Space-based Solar Power (#SBSP) for internal planning purposes and preparation of the SOLARIS proposal for CM22: https://lnkd.in/dk3Ev6_D

NASA, ESA Finalize Agreements on Climate, Artemis Cooperation

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, right, and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher pose for a photograph following the signing of two agreements at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, June 15, 2022. The agreements aim to further advance the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions. (Credits: ESA/S.Corvaja)

NOORDWIJK, Netherlands (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Josef Aschbacher signed two agreements Wednesday at the ESA Council meeting in Noordwijk, Netherlands, further advancing the space agencies’ cooperation on Earth science and Artemis missions.

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From the Earth to the Moon and on to Mars – ESA and NASA take decisions and plan for the future

Noordwijk, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — The next steps in exploring and using space for the benefit of European citizens were this week on the agenda at ESA’s Council meeting in ESA/ESTEC, the Netherlands on 14 and 15 June. The possibility of the first-ever European astronaut to set foot on the Moon, a telecommunication satellite for lunar exploration and a mission to return precious rock samples from Mars were all discussed.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined the meeting with ESA Member States in a decisive gesture to advocate for Europe’s strong role in multiple projects which reinforce the enduring partnership between the two leading space agencies.

“From understanding our changing planet to exploring Mars, I hugely value the cooperation we have with NASA” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.  “By contributing key European hardware and services to exciting programmes such as Artemis and Mars Sample Return, we are building Europe’s autonomy while also being a reliable partner.”

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NASA Leadership to Advocate for Agency Missions at ESA Council Meeting

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy visited the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Dec. 8, 2021 for tours and briefings on Michoud’s role in the Artemis program and other capabilities that enrich many facets of the nation’s space exploration endeavors. (Credits: NASA/Michael DeMocker)

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy will travel to Noordwijk, Netherlands, to participate in the ESA (European Space Agency) Council Meeting on Wednesday, June 15.

The event will be livestreamed at:

https://esawebtv.esa.int

ESA is one of NASA’s key partners in science and exploration. Nelson and Melroy will address the heads of delegation from the 22 agencies that comprise ESA and advocate for continued, robust funding for NASA-ESA collaboration for the next three to five years, including for Artemis, Mars Sample Return, and Earth science missions.

At the ESA Council, NASA and ESA will also sign two agreements: a strategic partnership in Earth science and a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies on the Lunar Pathfinder mission.

Thales Alenia Space and Partners Awarded Two Contracts for Laser-communication Related to ESA’s Hydron

CANNES, France (Thales Alenia Space PR) — Thales Alenia Space recently kicked-off two projects related to HydRON, being funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). The two contracts will allow Thales Alenia Space, and its partners, to develop its own vision demonstrating the potential of laser-based satellite communication.

The past years have seen a quick expansion of communications infrastructures fuelled by the unprecedented rise in the volume of data streams that circle the globe. This demand is also felt in the aerospace sector, where interconnection and integrative network concepts across orbits and across the globe are key to fulfil the demands of the future.

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European Space Summit Seeks to Boost Competitiveness, Protect Environment & Launch Independent Human Spaceflight Program

Credit: ESA

PARIS (ESA PR) — European leaders will reaffirm plans to launch Europe on a world-leading trajectory during a high-level space summit to be held on 16 February in Toulouse, France.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the unprecedented societal, economic and security challenges faced by Europe – from the climate crisis and its consequences to threats to crucial infrastructure in space and on Earth.

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Investing Recovery and Resilience Funds in Italian Space Projects

PARIS (ESA PR) — Green and digital transition in Europe will benefit from ESA expertise that supports national plans for investing recovery and resilience funds in space projects.

At the 303rd ESA Council meeting in Paris on 15 December 2021, ESA Member States took the decision to further the role of ESA as provider of expertise in support of national space plans, in particular in order to accompany the investment of Italian recovery and resilience funds in space programmes.

The corresponding arrangement for ESA’s assistance to the Italian National Project concerning Earth observation and space transportation and associated protocol were signed on the margin of the first Giornata Nazionale dello Spazio (Italian National Space Day), held at the Italian Space Agency (ASI) headquarters in Rome on 16 December 2021, by the Italian Minister for Digital Transition and Technological Innovation and delegated authority for space, Vittorio Colao, and ESA Director General, Josef Aschbacher, in the presence of the ASI President, Giorgio Saccoccia.

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ESA Contract to Advance Vega-C Competitiveness

Vega configurations (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Vega-C launch vehicle will fly in the second quarter of 2022 offering more performance to all orbits and extended mission flexibility at a similar cost to the current Vega. A new contract aims to widen these mission capabilities to capture new opportunities and satisfy emerging market needs to 2027.

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ESA Director to Retire Early

Johann Dietrich Woener

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich ‘Jan’ Wörner has announced he plans to leave his post running the space agency on Feb. 28, four months ahead of the original no-later-than date of June 30.

In a blog post, Wörner said a quicker transition was possible because his successor, Josef Aschbacher, already serves as ESA’s director for Earth Observation and is thus familiar with how the agency functions. In December, the ESA Council named Aschbacher to secede Wörner, who is nearing the end of his five-year term.

Wörner also cited planning work needed for the ESA ministerial in 2022. At that session, ministers from ESA’s 22 member states, two associate members and cooperating nation Canada meet to set the agency’s budget and policies.

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ESA Council Appoints Josef Aschbacher as Next ESA Director General

Josef Aschbacher (Credit: ESA–Philippe Sebirot, 2016)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today, the ESA Council appointed Dr Josef Aschbacher as the next Director General of ESA, for a period of four years. He will succeed Prof. Jan Wörner, whose term of office ends on 30 June 2021.

Dr Aschbacher is currently ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Head of ESRIN, ESA’s centre for Earth Observation near Rome.

Born in Austria, Dr Aschbacher studied at the University of Innsbruck, where he obtained Masters and PhD degrees in Natural Sciences. He has over three decades of experience working in international organisations, including ESA, the European Commission, the Austrian Space Agency and Asian Institute of Technology.

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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.

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ESA Council Approves Lunar Gateway, Mars Sample Return MOUs with NASA

PARIS (ESA PR) — The ESA Council met today in its 290th session and took some important decisions regarding the Executive’s senior management.

Several other decisions were taken in the meeting, in particular:

  • An adaptation of ESA’s decision-making to ensure efficient deliberation and ultimately, business continuity amid the current pandemic, particularly allowing remote participation and voting by Council members
  • The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA concerning Cooperation on the Civil Lunar Gateway, taking a step towards sending the first European to the Moon 
  • The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA concerning the Flight elements of the Mars Sample Return Campaign, consolidating the ambitious schedule towards the first-ever ‘round trip’ to Mars with return of pristine martian soil samples
  • In order to prepare the ESA/EU Council at ministerial Level (Space Council) to be held in November 2020, the ESA Council adopted a resolution to set-up a Council Working Group.
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ESA and EDA Joint Research: Advancing into the Unknown

Hera deploying its two CubeSats. (Credit: ESA – Science Office)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA and the European Defence Agency (EDA) are embarking on new cooperative projects for exploring unknown or potentially hazardous environments: harnessing drones for the monitoring of disaster-stricken regions or toxic spill sites and making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to navigate across the surface of asteroids or other terra incognita.

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