Airbus to Build Second Orion Service Module


BREMEN, Germany (ESA PR) — A European Service Module will power NASA’s Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon and back in 2018, and now work has started on a second mission, this time to carry astronauts.

Set for launch as early as 2021, this will be the first mission since 1972 to take humans out of low orbit – and European hardware will provide propulsion, electrical power, water, thermal control and atmosphere for up to four crew members.

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New ESA Astronaut Begins Training

Matthias Maurer (Credit: ESA)

COLOGNE, Germany (ESA PR) — Matthias Maurer, from Germany, has started his astronaut training as part of ESA’s astronaut corps.

Matthias was among the 10 finalists in 2009 selection, and is now undergoing basic training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

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Airbus Safran Launchers Seeks Guaranteed Number of Ariane 6 Flights

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: Airbus Defense and Space)

As it ramps up development of the Ariane 6, Airbus Safran Launchers is looking for a guarantee from European governmental bodies to order a set number of flights per year.

The company estimates that European government demand for launches accounts for only 27 percent of Arianespace’s launch activity, with the rest coming from the commercial sector. The U.S. market is 65-percent government demand, going largely to domestic launch providers, and the Russian market is 76-percent government, according to Airbus Safran Launchers numbers.

“The target now is to try to federate the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and national agencies for similar applications so that we organize a production order to be awarded to Arianespace as quickly as possible in order to give European industry a minimum critical mass for production of Ariane 6, and the same for Vega C,” [CEO Alain] Charmeau explained.

He said Airbus Safran Launchers is seeking a commitment of five Ariane 6 launches per year, and believes a commitment of two Vega C launches a year for Italy’s Avio would constitute enough demand to provide stability. Charmeau said demand for launches of European satellites is rising and should make this an attainable target.

“We anticipate a slight increase in institutional requirements in line with the increasing space budget in Europe, both at the European Commission level and ESA level, which means that there will be more programs, more satellites and therefore more launch services,” he said.

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French Prometheus Engine Program Receives ESA Funding

SpaceNews reports the French-funded Prometheus reusable rocket program will be receiving developing funding from ESA.

A small team of engineers from Airbus Safran Launchers and the French space agency CNES have poured a few million euros since 2015 into a liquid oxygen and-methane-fueled reusable engine dubbed Prometheus. ESA leaders agreed during December’s ministerial conference in Lucerne, Switzerland, to make Prometheus part of the agency’s Future Launchers Preparatory Program, or FLPP.

In an interview with SpaceNews, Airbus Safran Launchers CEO Alain Charmeau said FLPP is allocating 85 million euros ($91 million) to Prometheus to fund research and development leading to a 2020 test firing. Now that Prometheus is an ESA program, Charmeau expects more countries will get involved….

The target price for a Prometheus engine is 1 million euros, one-tenth the cost of the Ariane 6’s liquid-oxygen and liquid-hydrogen Vulcain 2.1 engine. The Prometheus program is making extensive use of new technologies and production methods, including 3-D printing, and a large amount of technical design work already completed in France and Germany, according to an Airbus Safran Launchers presentation.

Charmeau said the market dynamics that have dissuaded the company from reusability in the past are still the same, but the company wants to lay the foundation for long-term launcher development.

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Asteroid Sleuths Go Back to the Future

Asteroid 2016 WJ1 (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)
Asteroid 2016 WJ1 (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Careful sleuthing through decade-old images has enabled ESA’s asteroid team to decide that a newly discovered space rock poses little threat of hitting Earth any time soon.

Spotting a previously unknown asteroid for the first time always raises the big question: is there a risk it will impact Earth?

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The Year Ahead in Space

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.

A New Direction for NASA?

NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.

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Arianespace Signed 13 Launch Contracts in Past Year

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

While Elon Musk and SpaceX have been dominating the media spotlight with their spectacular Falcon 9 first-stage landings and even more spectacular launch pad firexplanomaly, Arianespace has quietly went about the task of putting satellites into orbit and signing new launch contracts.

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USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the OA-6 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41. (Credit: ULA)

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The United States and China led the world in orbital launch attempts in 2016 with 22 apiece. The combined 44 launches made up more than half of the 85 flights conducted around the world.

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Highlights of ESA’s Busy Year in Space

Video Caption: 2016 has been an incredible year for the European Space Agency. With astronauts visiting the ISS, Galileo deployment going at full speed and initial services declared. Or pioneering missions such as ExoMars. ESA is once again proving it is at the forefront of cutting edge technology and that its missions are an enrichment for the whole of humanity.

International Partnership with Europe Extended for Space Station, Orion

Orion_in_orbit
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) will continue their international cooperation in space, extending humanity’s presence farther into the solar system than ever before while sustaining critical work aboard the world-class laboratory, the International Space Station.

International Space Station partner agencies in extending their participation in the program through at least 2024. Their extension also enables ESA to fulfill a portion of its share of operational costs and additional supporting services for the space station by providing a second service module for Orion, the powerhouse that will propel and fuel the spacecraft when astronauts venture beyond the moon as early as 2021.

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UK Space Agency Allocates 1.4 Billion Euros to ESA Budget

UK_space_agencySWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — UK Space Agency allocates more than €1.4 billion over the next five years to European Space Agency programmes at the Council of Ministers in Lucerne, Switzerland.

  • €670.5 million investment in satellite technology for UK industry and science, including telecommunications, Earth observation, navigation and satellite services supporting every sector of the economy, including
  • €23 million to build on UK leadership of ESA’s climate change monitoring programme, based at the ECSAT facility in Harwell, Oxford.
    €82.4 million for the next phase of the ExoMars programme, to put a British-built rover on the surface of Mars.
  • €71 million for ESA’s International Space Station programme to 2021 and for the future of deep space exploration, building on the legacy of Tim Peake’s Principia mission

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Germany Provides Approximately 2 Billion Euros to ESA Space Projects

Dlr_logo1LUCERNE, Switzerland (DLR PR) — The highest decision-making body of the European Space Agency (ESA) met this year on 1 and 2 December at the Culture and Convention Centre (KKL) in Lucerne, Switzerland, to set the financial and programme-based course for European space travel for the coming years. Ministers in charge of space in Europe last came together exactly two years ago on 2 December 2014 in Luxembourg.

The German Federal Government was represented by Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Brigitte Zypries, who is also aerospace coordinator, was supported by Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board and Gerd Gruppe, Member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for the Space Administration, which, in close collaboration with the BMWi, prepared the German position for the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level.
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Bolden Praises ESA Commitment to Space Station Extension

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) decision to continue its operations aboard the International Space Station:

“I’m excited all the International Space Station partners have now joined us in committing to operation of this invaluable resource through at least 2024.

“The European Space Agency contributions to station are essential, and we look forward to continuing to work with ESA, the Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Roscosmos for extended operations, and to collaborating with other nations to push the boundaries of human exploration, and extend our reach farther into the solar system as part of the ongoing Journey to Mars.”

For more information about the International Space Station, its research and crews, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

ESA Approves 10.3 Billion Euro Budget; ISS Extended, ExoMars Funded

ESA logoMinisters from 22 ESA member countries approved a multi-year spending plan of €10.3 billion ($11 billion) for the European space agency, a reduction from the  €11 billion ($11.74 billion) that Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner had sought.

The budget includes an extension of the International Space Station to 2020 to 2024. ESA was the last of the international partners to approve the extension after the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.

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ESA Releases Findings of Citizens’ Space Debate

Johann-Dietrich Wörner (Credit: DLR, CC-BY)
Johann-Dietrich Wörner (Credit: DLR, CC-BY)

PARIS, 28 November 2016 (ESA PR) — On 10 September, about 2000 Europeans helped to shape the future of space by taking part in a world first: the Citizens’ Debate on Space for Europe.ESA organised the event to gather opinions and ideas to help develop and nurture the future strategy for space in Europe.

When Jan Woerner was elected as Director General of ESA by its Member States he expressed the wish to boost dialogue with all stakeholders and to open up space to a broader public. This Citizens’ Debate translated his intention into practice, by including people from all walks of life around Europe.

About 2000 people representing a broad diversity of citizens in 22 countries debated space issues during the day-long event.

This consultation exercise, on an unprecedented scale, was organised in all ESA Member States simultaneously, following the same approach.
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