Tag: ESA

ESA Launches Competition for Deep Space CubeSats

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ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission spacecraft will be humanity’s first mission to a binary system – the paired Didymos asteroids, which come a comparatively close 11 million km to Earth in 2022. (Credit: APL)

ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission spacecraft will be humanity’s first mission to a binary system – the paired Didymos asteroids, which come a comparatively close 11 million km to Earth in 2022. (Credit: APL)

PARIS (ESA PR) – Think of it as the ultimate hitchhiking opportunity: ESA is offering CubeSats a ride to a pair of asteroids in deep space.

CubeSats are among the smallest types of satellites: formed in standard cubic units of 10 cm per side, they provide affordable access to space for small companies, research institutes and universities. One-, two- or three-unit CubeSats are already being flown.

Teams of researchers and companies from any ESA Member State are free to compete. The selected CubeSats will become Europe’s first to travel beyond Earth orbit once the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) is launched in October 2020.

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Russia Looks to Extend ISS Operations to 2024 Before Splitting Off

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The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The Russian space agency Roscosmos is looking to continue operations of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, giving a boost to NASA’s effort to extend the life of the facility from the current 2020 deadline.

However, Roscosmos’ Scientific and Technical Council (STC) said the space agency plans to remove the Russian elements of ISS in 2024 in order to form the basis of a separate space station. That decision would end NASA’s hope of extending station operations to 2028.

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Hungary to Become 22nd ESA Member State

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ESA logoBUDAPEST, Hungary, 24 February 2015 (ESA PR) — Hungary signed the Accession Agreement to the ESA Convention on 24 February 2015. Upon ratification, Hungary will become the 22nd ESA Member State.

The signing ceremony took place at the Palace of Arts in Budapest with the participation of Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General. For Hungary, the Agreement was signed by Ákos Kara, Minister of State for Infocommunication and Consumer Protection, Ministry of National Development, and in the presence of Fruzsina Tari, Head of the Hungarian Space Office, also from the Ministry of National Development.

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Slovakia Becomes ESA Cooperating State

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ESA logoBRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Feb. 17, 2015 (ESA PR) — Slovakia becomes the ninth country to sign the European Cooperating State Agreement with ESA.

This agreement strengthens Slovakia’s relations with ESA, after the signature of the first Cooperation Agreement in April 2010. ESA’s Head of the Director General’s Cabinet, Mr Karlheinz Kreuzberg, and the Slovak Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport, Mr Juraj Draxler, signed the agreement in Bratislava on 16 February.

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ESA’s ATV Program Ends With Fiery Reentry; Focus Shifts to Orion

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ATV-5 departs the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

ATV-5 departs the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s fifth automated cargo ferry completed its mission to the International Space Station today when it reentered the atmosphere and burned up safely over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean.

The end of the mission as the craft broke up as planned at about 18:04 GMT (19:04 CET) marks the end of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) programme. The programme has served the Station with the most complex space vehicle ever developed in Europe, achieving five launches in six years following its 2008 debut.

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ESA’s ATV to End Final Space Station Resupply Mission

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ATV-5 (Credit: ESA/NASA)

ATV-5 (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle will leave the International Space Station on Saturday for its final solo voyage, setting course for a fiery demise that will mark the end of its mission and the programme.

The last of five Automated Transfer Vehicles, Georges Lemaître has had an event-filled mission that has displayed the spacecraft’s versatility. ATV-5 was launched only nine months after predecessor Albert Einstein finished its mission to supply and reboost the orbital complex.

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ESA Completes Successful IXV Mission

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Vega lifts off with IXV test vehicle. (Credit: ESA)

Vega lifts off with IXV test vehicle. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — An experimental vehicle to develop an autonomous European reentry capability for future reusable space transportation has completed its mission. ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle flew a flawless reentry and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos islands.

The IXV spaceplane lifted off at 13:40 GMT (14:40 CET, 10:40 local time) on 11 February from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana atop a Vega rocket. It separated from Vega at an altitude of 340 km and continued up to 412 km. Reentering from this suborbital path, it recorded a vast amount of data from more than 300 advanced and conventional sensors.

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Watch ESA’s IXV Launch Live on Wednesday

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IXV_lifting_body
ESA Mission Update

ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle is ready for its launch and reentry mission on 11 February. The launch is scheduled for 13:00 GMT (14:00 CET) atop a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Streaming starts at 12:45 GMT (13:45 CET)

This IXV mission will test cutting-edge system and technology aspects to provide Europe with an independent reentry capability, and a building block for reusable space transportation systems. It will validate designs for lifting-bodies, incorporating both the simplicity of capsules and the performance of winged vehicles, with high controllability and manoeuvrability for precision landing.

Ukraine Space Industry on Verge of Collapse

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The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

The first stage of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket is shipped out from Yuzhnoye design bureau in Ukraine. (Credt: Yuzhnoye)

I was just looking at the website for Yuzhmash, which is Ukraine’s principle producer of launch vehicles. I ran across the following letter to employees published on Oct. 10. It includes this rather prediction:

“Pivdenmash [Yuzhmash] is in deep financial crisis, the main factor which is a precipitous decline in production. The current crisis is not irreversible, but the situation is close to the point of no return.

“The actual bankruptcy of the enterprise will result in the loss of Ukraine’s status as a space power, failure of the obligations of the State to enter into international agreements, irreversible loss of proven technologies.”

This was four months ago. And by all accounts, matters have only gotten worse. The fighting eastern Ukraine has intensified. The government’s finances haven’t improved. And employees were given two-month unpaid leaves in late January. That came after many months of 3-day work weeks and partial pay.

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Camera to Record ATV’s Fiery Re-entry From the Inside

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ATV-5 firing its thrusters on Station approach in 2014. (Credit: Roscosmos-O. Artemyev)

ATV-5 firing its thrusters on Station approach in 2014. (Credit: Roscosmos-O. Artemyev)

PARIS (ESA PR) – Next Monday, ESA astronaut Samantha Christoforetti will float into Europe’s space ferry to install a special infrared camera, set to capture unique interior views of the spacecraft’s break-up on reentry.

“The battery-powered camera will be trained on the Automated Transfer Vehicle’s forward hatch, and will record the shifting temperatures of the scene before it,” explains Neil Murray, overseeing the project for ESA.

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