Astroscale Advances Environmentally Sustainable Use of Space through ESA / OneWeb Sunrise Project

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

HARWELL, UK (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Ltd. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term orbital sustainability, has been awarded a contract under the Sunrise Project, a Public-Private Partnership led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and OneWeb, a global communications company on a mission to connect the unconnected through a global satellite constellation.

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Scottish Supercomputer Satellites Launched into Orbit

Pioneer satellites launch on board Soyuz. (Credit: Roscomos)

A pair of Glasgow-built satellites which could revolutionise how data is downloaded from space were successfully launched on July 5

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — Satellites are essential to modern life due to their application in navigation, finance, telecoms and in monitoring weather, climate change and air pollution. However, the data they collect can be slow to download due to the volume of traffic, with users often having to download very large files they don’t need just to obtain specific elements.

Spire Global operates a network of small satellites, known as nanosatellites, which collect and transmit a range of valuable data. The two new additions, supported by the UK Space Agency, will be able to process and cherry-pick data from other satellites in orbit before transmitting it to Earth, optimising and freeing up bandwidth for other tasks and users.

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ESA, Arianespace Appoint Independent Inquiry Commission to Investigate Vega Launch Failure

Vega launch vehicle (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015)

PARIS, 11 July 2019 (ESA PR) — Arianespace announced today, 11 July, 2019, the failure of Flight VV15 carrying the FalconEye1 satellite. This was the first Vega failure after 14 successful launches in a row since being introduced at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana in 2012.

The Vega launch vehicle lifted off as scheduled on July 10, 2019 at 10:53 pm (local time in French Guiana). Approximately two minutes after the Vega launcher’s liftoff, shortly after ignition of the second stage (Zefiro 23), a launcher anomaly occurred – leading to the premature end of the mission.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace immediately decided to appoint an independent inquiry commission. This commission is tasked with analysing the reasons for the failure and defining the measures needed to ensure the resumption of Vega flights while fulfilling all requisite safety and security conditions. The inquiry commission is co-chaired by the Inspector General of ESA and the Senior Vice President, Technical and Quality of Arianespace.

Preparations for the next Ariane 5 launch are continuing at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport.

European Service Module 2 Being Assembled in Germany

European Service Module 2 assembly (Credit: Airbus)

BREMEN, Germany (ESA PR) — The European Service Module-2 (ESM-2) is somewhat like the portal it appears to be in this image. By providing power and propulsion for the Orion spacecraft, it will transport humans back to the Moon, roughly fifty years after humankind first landed on its surface.

In assembly at Airbus in Bremen, ESM-2 is the engine of the Orion spacecraft that will fly its second mission and first with a crew. The mission is called Artemis 2 and is set for launch in 2022.

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PTScientists Files for Bankruptcy

PTScientists filed for bankruptcy on Friday, July 5, with the district court Berlin Charlottenburg.

In a press release, the former Google Lunar X Prize competitor blamed unplanned delays in the acquisition of incentives and subsidies to support its planned mission to the moon.

“Lawyer Sascha Feies has been appointed as provisional insolvency administrator,” the press release stated. “The business operations and research projects of the scientific enterprise continue to run without any restrictions during the insolvency proceedings.”

PTScientists has been working with ArianeGroup and ESA on a joint study of a future mission to the lunar surface.

“The bankruptcy petition throws us back a little in time, because we first have to secure together with the insolvency administrator, the further financing of the company,” said Robert Boehme, founder and CEO of PTScientists. “However, given our clear progress and achievements that we have demonstrated in recent months, we are well placed to emerge from the insolvency process and implement our lunar mission as planned.”











When CubeSats Meet Asteroid

CubeSat approaching asteroid (Credit: ESA – Science Office)

TOULOUSE, France (ESA PR) — ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence, being designed to survey the smallest asteroid ever explored, is really three spacecraft in one. The main mothership will carry two briefcase-sized CubeSats, which will touch down on the target body. A French team has been investigating what might happen at that initial instant of alien contact.

“We’ve customised an existing drop tower and rigged it up with a system of pulleys and counterweights in order to simulate a low gravity environment,” explains researcher Naomi Murdoch of the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-Supaero), part of the University of Toulouse.

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Jumping Space Robot Flies Like Spacecraft

Spacebok jumping in simulated lunar gravity. (Credit; ETH Zurich/ZHAW Zurich)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA ) — Astronauts on the Moon found themselves hopping around, rather than simply walking. Switzerland’s SpaceBok planetary exploration robot has followed their example, launching all four legs off the ground during tests at ESA’s technical heart.

SpaceBok is a quadruped robot designed and built by a Swiss student team from ETH Zurich and ZHAW Zurich. It is currently being tested using robotic facilities at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands.

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New ISS Crew Prepares to Launch on 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Expedition 60 crewmembers NASA’s Andrew Morgan of NASA, Roscosmos’Alexander Skvortsov and ESA’s Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency pose on 5 July in front of a mural bearing the insignia of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission. (Credit: GCTC–Andrey Shelepin)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (ESA PR) — The next astronauts to join the International Space Station are on their marks for their launch to Earth’s orbit on 20 July, a date that also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, Roscomos’ Alexander Skvortsov and NASA’s Andrew Morgan arrived last week at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for an intense schedule of pre-launch activities.

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ESA Pioneer Satellites Launched

Pioneer satellites launch on board Soyuz. (Credit: Roscomos)

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (ESA PR) — The latest ESA Partnership Projects mission has launched two tiny supercomputing nanosatellites aboard a Soyuz rocket from Vostochny in Russia.

The parallel supercomputing scalable devices, aboard the lightweight, shoebox-sized nanosatellites, can be programmed to both receive and process data while in orbit. This enables them to select high-quality data and immediately transfer it to Earth.

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Airbus-built Fluid Experiment to Study Boiling Processes in Space

Thumbs up: RUBI project manager Olaf Schoele-Schulz from Airbus (right) signals RUBI is ready to fly. RUBI (Reference mUltiscale Boiling Investigation), a fluid science experiment developed and built by Airbus for the European Space Agency (ESA), addresses the fundamentals of the boiling of fluids. (Credit: Airbus)

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, 02 July 2019 – The next supply mission (CRS-18) to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will transport a special ‘steam engine’ to the International Space Station (ISS). RUBI (Reference mUltiscale Boiling Investigation), a fluid science experiment developed and built by Airbus for the European Space Agency (ESA), addresses the fundamentals of the boiling of fluids.

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ExoMars: Progress and Challenges

ExoMars 2020 parachute deployment sequence (Credit: ESA)

TURIN, Italy, 28 June 2019  (ESA PR) — The full parachute system that will help deliver the ExoMars rover and a surface science platform to the martian surface has completed a full-scale high-altitude deployment sequence test, although unexpected damage to the main parachutes occurred.

Meanwhile, the main elements of the descent module hardware, including the heat shield that will protect the lander as it enters the atmosphere of Mars, have been delivered to Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy, this week.

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ESA to Mark Asteroid Day on June 30

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA will be participating in this year’s Asteroid Day, the UN-endorsed global awareness campaign day on the small rocky bodies scattered across space, taking place on Sunday, 30 June.

The main event will be a 24-hour live broadcast streamed from Luxembourg City, in coordination with hundreds of other events all over Europe and the world.

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ESA’s Expertise to Support Portugal’s Launch Program

Azores from space

PARIS (ESA PR) — Portugal is developing the infrastructure for a national spaceport on one of the islands of the Azores archipelago, Santa Maria, a European launch and landing location for small satellites.

As an ESA Member State, Portugal has requested ESA’s tailored expertise and technical assistance in an agreement signed on 21 June by ESA Director General Jan Wörner and Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education.
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UK Scientists to Lead ESA’s New Comet Interceptor Mission

Comet Interceptor concept (Credit: ESA)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — A new mission called Comet Interceptor, which was proposed by the UK, has been targeted for launch by the European Space Agency in 2028.

Comet Interceptor would be the first mission to travel to a comet which has never previously encountered the inner Solar System.

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Ariane 5 Launches 2 Communications Satellites

Ariane 5 liftoff on June 20, 2019 (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 21 June 2019 (ESA PR) — An Ariane 5 has delivered the T-16 and Eutelsat-7C telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

Arianespace announced liftoff at 21:43 GMT (23:43 CEST, 18:43 local time) yesterday from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission lasted about 33 minutes.

T-16 with a launch mass of 6330 kg, was the first to be released after about 27 minutes. The 3400 kg Eutelsat-7C was released 6 minutes later.

T-16 owned by for AT&T (DirecTV) provides high-power broadcast services covering the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. T-16 has a design life of 15 years.

Eutelsat-7C, owned and operated by Eutelsat, provides high-power broadcasting for markets in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Turkey. This satellite has a design life of more than 15 years.

The performance requested for this launch was about 10 594 kg. The satellites totalled about 9730 kg, with payload adapters and carrying structures making up the rest.

Flight VA248 was the 104th Ariane 5 mission.