Tag: ESA

Reaction Engines Reaches SABRE Engine Milestone

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Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

ABINGTON, England (Reaction Engines PR) – This year, the Reaction Engines team are expanding in staff and activities to complete the SABRE demonstrator programme, with delivery on track for 2019. The company has relocated to larger premises on Culham Science Centre; consolidated its two manufacturing subsidiaries to a single new location in Didcot; and is recruiting across the company, ready for the design, manufacture and testing of the full SABRE engine cycle. This growth phase has also included the purchase of new, bespoke equipment which will enable Reaction Engines to manufacture its proprietary SABRE pre-coolers in-house, at full scale.

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Beagle 2 Lander Found on Mars

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Beagle 2 lander on Martian surface. (Credit: NASA)

Beagle 2 lander on Martian surface. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — The UK-led Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago. This find shows that the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sequence for Beagle 2 worked and the lander did successfully touchdown on Mars on Christmas Day 2003. Beagle 2 hitched a ride to Mars on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was a collaboration between industry and academia. It would have delivered world-class science from the surface of the Red Planet. Many UK academic groups and industrial companies contributed to Beagle 2.

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ESA Sets New Date for Experimental Re-entry Vehicle Launch

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Engineers conduct final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle  (IXV). (Credit: ESA)

Engineers conduct final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — On its first launch of the year, Europe’s Vega rocket will loft ESA’s unmanned spaceplane to test reentry technologies for future vehicles.

The launch campaign has resumed, aiming for a liftoff on 11 February from Kourou, French Guiana to release ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, IXV, into a suborbital trajectory.

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ESA Funds CubeSats for In-orbit Technology Demos

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SIMBA CubeSat mission (Credit: ESA)

SIMBA CubeSat mission (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In parallel with the Proba minisatellite missions, ESA is now also utilising much smaller ‘CubeSat’ nanosatellites. These are employed for the In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) of miniaturised technologies and for small payload-driven missions. Continue reading ‘ESA Funds CubeSats for In-orbit Technology Demos’

Europe’s Launch Vehicle Revolution Will Take Time

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

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

Space News provides an update on the European effort to transfer authority for producing the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle to industry.

Airbus Defence and Space on Jan. 8 said its new joint venture with Safran, Airbus Safran Launchers, would purchase the French government’s shares in the Arianespace launch service provider “in the coming weeks” and by the end of the year would assume total control of the design and future production, operation and commercial sales of the next-generation Ariane 6 launcher.

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Year in Review: Launch Industry Disrupted in 2014

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SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has long talked about disrupting the launch industry with low prices and technological innovations. In 2014, the impacts of those efforts were felt far and wide as competitors responded to the threat the California company posed to their livelihoods.

ULA Pivots. With SpaceX reeling off one successful launch after another, ULA pivoted on several fronts. One was to announce efforts to significantly reduce costs on its highly reliable but pricey Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. But, even that proved to be insufficient as SpaceX threatened ULA on several fronts.

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Europe Eyes Reusable Rockets

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ESA logoSpace News reports that European officials have launched a modest effort toward developing a reusable rocket:

The French space agency, CNES, on Jan. 5 said it has begun a small technology research program with Germany and other governments to develop a future liquid oxygen/methane-powered rocket stage that would be reusable.

Michel Eymard, CNES’s director of launchers, said European Space Agency governments in December approved a modest research effort to refine technologies eventually needed to recover, refurbish and reuse an entire Ariane rocket stage.

Reusability is not among the features of Europe’s future Ariane 6 rocket, which is scheduled to make an inaugural flight in 2020. Led by CNES and France, which agreed to finance a 52 percent stake in the project, ESA governments are investing more than 4 billion euros ($5 billion) in the Ariane 6.

ESA’s reusable-launcher program is small in size, although when matched with work done by CNES on its own and by the German Aerospace Center, it could produce a consensus on a future technology roadmap by mid-2015. But a vehicle demonstration of the sort SpaceX has planned, he said, will not occur before 2026.

CNES officials have said that in addition to the need for a high launch rhythm, a rocket with a reusable first stage would need to overcome the fact that reusability means reducing the economies of scale realized from producing lots of rocket stages and motors.

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The Year Ahead in Space

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The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Update: Added Falcon Heavy flight test to the list.

A number of very cool space missions are set to unfold in the coming year. Here’s a brief rundown:

Jan. 6: Falcon 9 Barge Landing Attempt. SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a barge. The goal is to recover the stage intact for later relaunch. Success could lead to significantly lower launch costs in the years ahead.

March 5: Dawn Arrives at Ceres. Having completed an exploration of the asteroid Vesta, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres on March 5. The vehicle will enter orbit around the unexplored world, which is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt.

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Worldwide Launches Hit 20-Year High in 2014

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Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)

Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a banner year for launches worldwide in 2014, with the total reaching a 20-year high as Russia and India debuted new launch vehicles, NASA tested its Orion crew spacecraft, China sent a capsule around the moon, and Japan launched a spacecraft to land on an asteroid.

There were a total of 92 orbital launches, the highest number since the 93 launches conducted in 1994. In addition, Russia and India conducted successful suborbital tests of new boosters.

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DLR Chairman Woerner to Become Next ESA Director General

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

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

PARIS (ESA/DLR PR) — Today, the Council of the European Space Agency announced the appointment of Johann-Dietrich Woerner as the next Director General of ESA, for a period of four years starting on 1 July 2015.

He will succeed Jean-Jacques Dordain, whose term of office ends on 30 June 2015.

Mr Woerner is currently Chairman of the Executive Board of DLR, the German Aerospace Center. Born in Kassel in 1954, Woerner has been Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 1 March 2007.

He studied civil engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1982, as part of his studies, he spent two years in Japan, investigating earthquake safety. Until 1990 Wörner worked for the consulting civil engineers König und Heunisch. In 1990 he returned to Darmstadt University, where he was appointed to a professorship in Civil Engineering and took over as Head of the Testing and Research Institute. Before being elected President of the Technische Universität Darmstadt in 1995, he held the position of Dean of the Civil Engineering Faculty.

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