Tag: ESA

J Marks the Spot for Rosetta’s Philae Comet Lander

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Philae’s primary landing site. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Philae’s primary landing site. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PARIS (ESA PR) – Rosetta’s lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk to the lander compared to the other candidate sites.

Site J is on the ‘head’ of the comet, an irregular shaped world that is just over 4 km across at its widest point. The decision to select Site J as the primary site was unanimous. The backup, Site C, is located on the ‘body’ of the comet.

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Satellite Operators Tell ESA to Stop Bickering, Move Fast on Building Ariane 6

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Space News reports that European satellite fleet operators want ESA to move forward quickly with building an Ariane 5 successor:

A group including the world’s largest commercial satellite fleet operators has written the European Space Agency urging that it approve a new-generation Ariane 6 in time for a first launch in 2019 or face relegating the European rocket to commercial also-ran status.

The letter to ESA Director Jean-Jacques Dordain makes clear that these fleet operators have a ho-hum view of the Ariane 5 ME vehicle that ESA governments are weighing alongside a new-generation Ariane 6.

Given the advent of electric propulsion and the dramatic launch-cost reduction offered by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the operators say, the new Ariane 6 needs to be in service by 2019 or face the risk that Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium will be permanently sidelined.

The letter was signed by six members of the European Satellite Operators Association. Signatories included the chief executives of Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, Hispasat and HellasSat.

That’s a pretty weighty group. Maybe it will break the impasse over what to do next.

Ariane 5 ME is an interim step that would allow the Ariane 5 to carry heavier payloads. The launch vehicle carries one large communications satellite and a lighter one.

Snecma Vinci Engine Completes Development Tests

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Vinci engine (Credit: Snecma)

Vinci engine (Credit: Snecma)

VERNON, France (Snecma PR) – The fifth development model (M5) of the Vinci® rocket engine designed by Snecma (Safran), has successfully completed its ground firing tests.

Vinci® is a new-generation cryogenic rocket engine – fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen – intended for the upper stages of the upcoming Ariane 5 ME and Ariane 6 launch vehicles. It can be restarted in flight, and develops three times more thrust than the HM7B engine now powering the upper stage of the current Ariane 5 ECA launcher.

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Europe Launches Largest Metallurgical Research Consortium

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Semi-metallic bismuth crystal used in thermoelectric compounds (Credit: ESA)

Semi-metallic bismuth crystal used in thermoelectric compounds (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — European industry has decided to ‘put the pedal to the metal’, by creating the world’s largest research consortium in the field of metals research and manufacturing. Media are invited to learn about the new programme in a press conference at London’s Science Museum on 9 September.

Aptly called Metallurgy Europe, the R&D programme will be funded to the tune of one billion euros over seven years.

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Discord Continues Over Future of Ariane Launch System

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Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

As SpaceX continues to notch successful launches and sign new customers, Europe’s two largest contributors to ESA’s budget remain divided on the future of the Ariane launch vehicle:

The French and German governments remain so far apart on a future space-launch policy for Europe that officials are now privately talking about canceling a December conference of European space ministers or stripping it of concrete decisions.

The basic division remains despite the German government’s alignment with the French view that Europe needs a lower-cost rocket to maintain its viability in the commercial market — which in turn provides European governments with a viable launch industry.

Despite the consensus over the longer term, the two sides remain split on whether European Space Agency governments should spend 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to complete work on a new upper stage for the existing Ariane 5 rocket, which could fly in 2018-2019, or abandon the upgrade to focus spending on a new Ariane 6 rocket, whose development would cost upwards of 3 billion euros over 7-8 years.

Read the full story at Space News.

NASA Instrument on Rosetta Returns First Scientific Results

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Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 August from a distance of 285 km. The image resolution is 5.3 metres/pixel. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 August from a distance of 285 km. The image resolution is 5.3 metres/pixel. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A NASA instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Rosetta orbiter has successfully made its first delivery of science data from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The instrument, named Alice, began mapping the comet’s surface last month, recording the first far-ultraviolet light spectra of the comet’s surface. From the data, the Alice team discovered the comet is unusually dark — darker than charcoal-black — when viewed in ultraviolet wavelengths. Alice also detected both hydrogen and oxygen in the comet’s coma, or atmosphere.

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Rosetta Landing Sites Narrowed to 5

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Philae candidate landing sites. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Philae candidate landing sites. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

PARIS, 25 August 2014 (ESA PR) — Using detailed information collected by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft during its first two weeks at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, five locations have been identified as candidate sites to set down the Philae lander in November – the first time a landing on a comet has ever been attempted.

Before arrival, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko had never been seen close up and so the race to find a suitable landing site for the 100 kg lander could only begin when Rosetta rendezvoused with the comet on 6 August.

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Investigation Begins into Launch Anomaly; Prognosis for Galileo Satellites Grim

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Europe's Galileo constellation. Credits: ESA-J. Huart

Europe’s Galileo constellation. Credits: ESA-J. Huart

Arianespace and ESA have issued an update on the launch anomaly that stranded two Galileo navigation satellites in the wrong orbits. The statement confirms that investigators are focused on an apparent problem with the Fregat upper stage of the Russian Soyuz ST launch vehicle.

The update provides no information about the fate of the satellites other than to say they are healthy and communicating with the ground. The European Commission has not issued an update since Friday, when it celebrated what it thought was a fully successful launch.

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Oops! Soyuz Places 2 Galileo Satellites in Wrong Orbits

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Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites (Credit: ESA)

Soyuz launches two Galileo satellites (Credit: ESA)

After much celebratory rhetoric on Friday over the launch of two Galileo navigation satellites from Kourou, European officials realized the spacecraft were placed in the wrong orbits.

Arianespace, which managed the launch of the Russian Soyuz booster, made a terse announcement:

Complementary observations gathered after separation of the Galileo FOC M1 satellites on Soyuz Flight VS09 have highlighted a discrepancy between targeted and reached orbit.

Investigations are underway. More information will be provided after a first flight data analysis to be completed on August 23, 2014.

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Swiss Space Systems Seeking Investors

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SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)

SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)

PAYERNE, Switzerland, August 20, 2014 (S3 PR) -- Swiss aerospace company Swiss Space Systems – S3 aims to become the world leader in the small satellite launch segment, a market bound for impressive growth estimated at over $ 240 billion by 2020, with over 200 satellites expected to be launched to orbit every year. S3 is now officially announcing ongoing and upcoming discussions with prospective financial and strategic investors to further strengthen its position of European leader in this booming market.

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